(Khartoum) Violence reached a new level in Sudan on Thursday with destruction and looting in Darfur and intense shelling in Khartoum on the thirteenth day of a conflict between the army and paramilitaries that has already left hundreds dead.

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said he was working “actively” to extend a ceasefire that came into effect on Tuesday for three days but was hardly respected.

A relative lull in the fighting, however, allowed the evacuation of hundreds of foreigners and thousands of Sudanese, but the truce did not prevent Khartoum from being continuously pounded by planes and heavy artillery.

“I hear heavy shelling outside my home,” a Khartoum resident reported Thursday evening.

The fighting since April 15 between the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the very dreaded paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, has claimed more than 500 lives. and thousands injured, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Health.

Before the expiration Thursday at midnight of a 72-hour truce, forced by the United States, the army announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to send a representative to Juba, the capital of neighboring South Sudan, for talks with the paramilitaries to discuss an extension of the truce.

The paramilitaries did not comment on the announcement of these discussions, “at the initiative of IGAD”, a regional bloc in East Africa, according to the army.

In Darfur, a remote region to which access is currently impossible, violence is intensifying, particularly in El-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur.

“Hospitals, public buildings and health centers have been severely damaged and there is looting on every street corner,” a resident of El-Geneina told AFP.

“We’re stuck at home, we’re too scared to go out so we don’t know the exact extent of the destruction,” he said.

Few information filter from this border region of Chad and theater in the 2000s of a particularly bloody war. But pro-democracy doctors have already announced the death of one of their colleagues in this violence.

The UN has reported for several days “attacks on civilians, looting and burning of houses”. Even more dangerous, the organization says, “weapons are distributed” to civilians.

These clashes make life even more precarious for the inhabitants of the region, one of the poorest in the country where 50,000 “acutely malnourished” children have been deprived of food aid since the UN suspended its activities after the death. of five humanitarians.

“Violence, the disruption of the functioning of many hospitals and clinics, limited access to drinking water, food shortages and the forced displacement of populations” constitute “the greatest risks for health in Sudan”, alert of his side the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fighting has caused a mass exodus in this country of 45 million inhabitants, one of the poorest in the world.

Several tens of thousands of people have already arrived in neighboring countries: Chad to the west, Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan and the Central African Republic to the south, and Egypt to the north. In this country alone, more than 14,000 Sudanese and 2,000 nationals of other countries have arrived. A total of 270,000 people could flee to Chad and South Sudan, according to the UN.

In recent days, several countries have organized evacuations. France announced on Thursday that it had evacuated another nearly 400 people of different nationalities, China 1,300 of its nationals and the United Kingdom called on its nationals to “leave now”.

Those left in Sudan have to contend with food, water and electricity shortages as well as internet and phone line cuts.

Fourteen hospitals were bombed in combat zones, according to the doctors’ union, and 19 others were forcibly evacuated because of gunfire, lack of equipment and personnel or because fighters had taken up residence there.

In the general chaos, hundreds of detainees escaped from three prisons, in particular Kober, where former dictator Omar al-Bashir’s inner circle was held, including several men wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for ” war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in Darfur.

Sacked by the army in April 2019 under the pressure of a popular uprising, Mr. Bashir is still being held, according to the army, in a military hospital.

Damping hopes of a democratic transition, the two generals had together ousted civilians from power during a putsch in 2021, before going to war, failing to agree on the integration of paramilitaries into the army. army.