Worshippers hurt in Sudan church attack, combatants say

Sudanese Army soldiers

Sudanese Army soldiers walk near tanks stationed on a street in southern Khartoum, on May 6, 2023, amid ongoing fighting against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Photo credit: AFP


Christian worshippers were attacked in a Khartoum-area Coptic church during mass on Sunday, both warring sides claimed, blaming each other for the attack.

The Sudanese military, under army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that paramilitary forces "fired bullets at Christian worshippers" at the Mar Girgis (St George) Church in Omdurman, the capital's twin city.

Burhan's forces have been fighting since April 15 with his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the heavily armed paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The RSF blamed the army for the attack, which "caused serious injuries among worshippers", it said in a statement which condemned "misleading campaigns targeting our forces".

Fighting has disrupted Sudan's communication links, and Mar Girgis church could not be reached for comment. 

The warring generals have traded heavy gunfire, air strikes and anti-aircraft fire in densely-populated Khartoum and other parts of Sudan since they fell out in a power struggle.

Hundreds of people have been killed, thousands wounded and nearly a million displaced by the fighting.

Representatives of both generals, meeting in Saudi Arabia, had pledged on Thursday to honour international humanitarian law.

The agreement brokered by Saudi and US mediators does not amount to a truce but provides for the safe passage of urgent humanitarian aid and commits to the protection of civilians in the fighting.

Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under Islamist general Omar al-Bashir's regime, several high-ranking officials of which returned to power following a coup by Burhan and Daglo in 2021.

Their putsch derailed a transition to democracy after the fall of Bashir in 2019.

Government figures say Christians represent only three percent of Sudan's population, although Christian leaders say the real figure is much higher.