Church-goers hurt in Sudan assault, as combatants claim; a perplexing and explosive situation!
During a mass on Sunday, a Coptic church in the Khartoum area was attacked, with both factions involved in the war pointing accusing fingers at each other.
The Sudanese military, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, alleged that paramilitary forces “fired bullets at Christian worshippers” at the Mar Girgis Church in Omdurman, the capital’s twin city.
Meanwhile, the heavily armed paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo blamed the army for the attack, which resulted in “serious injuries among worshippers”, according to a statement condemning “misleading campaigns targeting our forces”.
Communication links have been disrupted by the clashes, affecting the ability to obtain Mar Girgi’s church comment on the matter.
The warring generals, who have been engaged in a power struggle since April 15, have exchanged heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and anti-aircraft fire in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan, resulting in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and nearly a million people being displaced.
Representatives of both generals, who met in Saudi Arabia, pledged to respect international humanitarian law on Thursday. Nonetheless, the Saudi and US mediated agreement does not involve a ceasefire. Instead, it provides for the safe passage of emergency humanitarian aid and protection of civilians during the fighting.
For decades, Sudan’s Christians were persecuted under the regime of Islamist General Omar al-Bashir, and several high-ranking officials returned to power after Burhan and Daglo’s coup in 2021, which derailed a transition to democracy following Bashir’s fall in 2019.
Official government statistics state that Christians constitute only three percent of the Sudanese population, with Christian leaders insisting that the actual figure is much higher.