‘This is war’: Cochrane man stranded in Khartoum as explosions, gunfire rage through Sudan’s capital

Click to play video: 'Sudan crisis: UN condemns ‘catastrophic’ fighting as residents flee violence in Khartoum'
Sudan crisis: UN condemns ‘catastrophic’ fighting as residents flee violence in Khartoum
WATCH: "The humanitarian situation in Sudan was already precarious and is now catastrophic," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said – Apr 17, 2023

Tim Sanborn is no stranger to life in Sudan. The Cochrane man has been to the north African country five times, the first in 2013 and three times since November.

He works for a company that supplies agricultural equipment that they install and commission internationally.

Sanborn left on April 1 to commission some forage compaction equipment, getting it ready to hand over to a customer in a community north of the capital Khartoum.

He was supposed to fly out of Khartoum on Monday.

But on Saturday he woke up to the sound of small arms gun fire.

“I didn’t think that was terribly unusual for the area, but it escalated within a half an hour to a full war-like state,” Sanborn said.

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He is staying at a hotel less than a kilometre from the airport where the original attacks occurred

“Through Saturday, it escalated to the point where we had fighter jets overhead — tanks, and heavy artillery.  I’m used to protests and people gathering to the point of almost riots here but this is war,” Sanborn said.

“I had to learn about what was happening on Saturday morning as they were bombing the hell out of the place.”

The battle for control of Sudan is continuing after growing tensions between rival military leaders turned violent.

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The Sudanese military and a powerful paramilitary group battled for control of the nation for a second day Sunday, signaling they were unwilling to end hostilities despite mounting diplomatic pressure to cease fire.

Both factions have made competing claims about who has taken what areas.

Sanborn said he’s living in a “decent” hotel that has a generator, but they are expecting to run out of fuel by Tuesday. He’s concerned about how he will be able to have contact with family and colleagues back home once they lose power.

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“Charging devices and things like that is probably going to be the most difficult thing to overcome here — trying to stay in communication with our evacuation team that we have on standby and with family at home,” Sanborn said.

He has food and water at this point and he feels fortunate compared to most of the other people living in the city.

“I’m on the tenth floor but there’s shrapnel flying. They are on our street now fighting. The heavy fighting is at the airport.

“This morning there was a huge offensive and it’s pretty scary. I went into the stairwell down to the third floor and just took shelter there for a couple of hours. When these fighters are going over everybody is pointing up trying to shoot at them. They’re flying right over us. That’s when you feel like you could get hurt or killed,” Sanborn said.

Click to play video: 'Deadly coup causes panic in Sudan after dozens killed'
Deadly coup causes panic in Sudan after dozens killed

His immediate thoughts are with the people of Sudan and with his family back home who worry for his safety.

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There’s no clear answer as to when he’ll be able to get out of Khartoum.

“The question is how the heck are we going to get out of here?” Sanborn said.

He said it’s not safe to get people out from the airport at this point. He suggested the best case scenario would be a cease-fire agreement to allow people to evacuate.

“Commercial air traffic is not happening. The airport is demolished. The runway from what I can see looks usable, but every plane there is probably damaged that’s on the ground there and the building itself is destroyed. That’s where the heavy fighting has been.

It will take a UN or government run to get us out of here I’m sure, for those of us who don’t have private means,” Sanborn said.

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