New fighting shatters temporary truce in Sudan capital as crisis escalates

2023-04-22 20:38:45
New fighting shatters temporary truce in Sudan capital as crisis escalates

Fighting in Sudan has entered a second week, with gunfire and explosions shattering a temporary truce in the capital Khartoum where a violent power struggle has left hundreds dead.

The heavy explosions that had previously rocked the city in recent days had subsided overnight, but bursts of gunfire resumed on Saturday morning.

Forces commanded by two previously allied leaders of Sudan's ruling council are two sides of the warring faction.

Sudanese military soldiers and gunmen from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shot at each other all day on Friday in neighborhoods across the city.

The shootings continued during the call for the special early morning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr prayers, with gunfire punctuated by the thud of artillery and airstrikes.

Drone footage showed smoke across Khartoum and its Nile sister cities, together with one of Africa's biggest urban areas.

The army and its adversary the RSF paramilitary had said separately that they agreed to a three-day truce to enable people to celebrate Eid.

RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, said early Saturday that he had received a phone call from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The two "emphasized the necessity of adhering to a complete ceasefire and providing protection for humanitarian and medical workers, especially UN staff as well as regional and international organizations," Hemedti said in a post on his official Facebook account.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands wounded since the deadly clashes broke out last week between forces loyal to Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy Daglo.

What’s behind the fighting?

The clashes erupted amid an apparent power struggle between the two main factions of Sudan’s military regime.

The Sudanese armed forces are broadly loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto ruler, while the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a collection of militia, follow the former warlord Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

The power struggle has its roots in the years before a 2019 uprising that ousted the dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir, who built up formidable security forces that he deliberately set against one another.

When an effort to transition to a democratic civilian-led government faltered after Bashir’s fall, an eventual showdown appeared inevitable, with diplomats in Khartoum warning in early 2022 that they feared such an outbreak of violence. In recent weeks, tensions have risen further.


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