Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Sudan: UN, U.S. Call for 'Immediate' End to Fighting Within Sudan Security Forces

The head of the United Nations mission in Sudan and the United States on Saturday called for an “immediate” end to fighting between the regular army and paramilitaries. At least three civilians have been killed and a dozen injured in clashes in Khartoum and other cities.

Air strikes and artillery exchanges were heard in the Sudanese capital Saturday as paramilitaries and the regular army traded attacks on each other’s bases, days after the army warned the country was at a “dangerous” turning point.

The eruption of violence comes after weeks of deepening tensions between military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his number two, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The pair have been at loggerheads over talks to finalise a deal to return the country to civilian rule and end the crisis sparked by their 2021 coup.

A plan to integrate the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into Sudan‘s regular army is one of the key points of contention, analysts have said.

Trading blame

The two sides traded blame for starting the fighting at the weekend.

The RSF said they were “surprised Saturday with a large force from the army entering camps”, reporting a “sweeping attack with all kinds of heavy and light weapons”.

Army spokesman Brigadier General Nabil Abdallah said the paramilitaries launched the fighting, attacking “several army camps in Khartoum and elsewhere around Sudan”.

“Clashes are ongoing and the army is carrying out its duty to safeguard the country”, he added.

The RSF said its forces had taken control of Khartoum airport, after witnesses reported seeing truckloads of fighters entering the airport compound, as well as the presidential palace and other key sites.

Its claims were quickly denied by the army, who said the airport and other bases remain under their “full control”, publishing a photograph of black smoke billowing from what it said was the RSF headquarters.

Casualties

The army said it had carried out air strikes against RSF bases in Khartoum. “The Sudanese air force destroyed Tiba and Soba camps,” it said in a statement.

Witnesses also reported clashes around the state media building in Khartoum’s sister city Omdurman, as well near Burhan’s residence and in Khartoum North.

Outside the capital, witness Eissa Adam said explosions and gunfire had been heard across the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher.

The doctors’ union said three civilians had been killed, including at Khartoum airport and in North Kordofan state, and at least nine others wounded.

Pleas to cease hostilities

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday he was “deeply concerned” about the reports of fighting.

“We urge all actors to stop the violence immediately and avoid further escalations or troop mobilizations and continue talks to resolve outstanding issues,” he tweeted from Hanoi, Vietnam, on his way to a Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan.

The military’s civilian interlocutors called on both sides “to immediately cease hostilities and spare the country slipping into the abyss of total collapse.”

Their plea was echoed by the head of the United Nations mission in Sudan Volker Perthes who called for an “immediate” ceasefire.

“Perthes has reached out to both parties asking them for an immediate cessation of fighting to ensure the safety of the Sudanese people and to spare the country from further violence,” the UN mission said.