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Fire engulfs Khartoum’s iconic Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company

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An 18-storey building in the centre of Sudan’s capital has been engulfed in flames amid ongoing fighting in the country.

The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) Tower, situated in downtown Khartoum, caught fire early on Sunday during clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), according to Sudanese media.

It is unclear how the fire started or whether anyone was killed. Online footage of the blaze showed clouds of dark smoke rising from the burned-out glass tower, one of the tallest buildings in Khartoum. The latest fighting in the capital left three key landmark towers in the Al Mugran district gutted by fire: GNPOC, the Ministry of Justice, and the Sudanese Standards and Metrology Organization.

Sudan has been rocked by violence since mid-April, when tensions between the country’s military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, burst into open fighting. The conflict has reduced Khartoum to an urban war zone. In Greater Khartoum, RSF troops have commandeered civilian homes and turned them into operational bases, while the military has responded by bombing the residential areas, rights groups and activists say.

In the western Darfur region, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the United Nations.

The conflict has killed more than 4,000 people, according to August figures from the UN. However, the real toll is almost certainly much higher, doctors and activists say. Last month, Amnesty International said both warring parties have committed extensive war crimes, including deliberate killings of civilians and sexual assault.

The GNPOC Tower was built in 2006 and served as the headquarters of a consortium of oil companies operating in Sudan. It was a landmark project that defined the skyline of Khartoum. The tower’s architect, Tagreed Abdin, expressed her pain on Twitter after seeing her work destroyed by fire. “This is truly painful,” she wrote. “Such senseless destruction.”

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