News ID: 114144
Publish Date : 18 April 2023 - 22:50

Sudan’s Rival Forces Agree to Ceasefire But Clashes Continue

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — The Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary force that have been battling the past four days for control of the country agreed Tuesday to a 24-hour ceasefire, Arab media reports said.
Still, hours before the ceasefire was reportedly set to begin, forces loyal to Sudan’s two top generals continued fighting each other in the streets of Khartoum, underscoring the fragility of efforts to bring even a pause in the intensifying violence that has threatened to spiral even further into chaos.
Millions of Sudanese in the capital and in other cities have been hiding in their homes, caught in the crossfire as rival forces pounded residential areas with artillery and airstrikes and engaged in gunbattles outside. Residents have spoken of bodies of the dead left lying in the streets, unreachable because of clashes, pointing to a toll that is likely to be far higher than the more than 180 dead reported so far by the UN since fighting began Saturday.
Fighters in Khartoum attacked a U.S. Embassy convoy and stormed the home of the EU envoy to Sudan, though neither attack caused casualties. The convoy of clearly marked U.S. Embassy vehicles was attacked Monday, and preliminary reports link the assailants to the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group battling Sudan’s military, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters. 
The violence has raised the specter of civil war just as the Sudanese were trying to revive the drive for a civilian government after decades of military rule.  
RSF leader Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo said in a series of tweets Tuesday that he had approved a 24-hour humanitarian truce.
Initially, the military said in a statement that it was “not aware of any coordination with mediators” on a truce and vowed to step up the battle. The fighting, it said, “entered the decisive phase,” and that the coming hours would see a “crushing defeat” of the RSF.
Later, satellite channels Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera cited Lt. Gen. Shams El Din Kabbashi as saying the military would comply with the ceasefire starting at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT). CNN Arabic also cited armed forces chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, saying the military would be party to the day-long truce.
There was no immediate public announcement of a ceasefire from military officials, however.
More tanks and armored vehicles belonging to the military rolled into Khartoum early Tuesday, heading toward the military’s headquarters and the Republican Palace, the seat of power, residents said. During the night, fighter jets swooped overhead and anti-aircraft fire lit up the sky.
In the afternoon, clashes were still reported around the military’s headquarters and close to the neighboring airport, both major battle zones. Throughout the day, the two sides battled around main bases and at strategic government buildings, all of which are in residential areas.
Each side already has tens of thousands of troops distributed around the districts of Khartoum and the city of Omdurman on the opposite bank of the Nile River. Terrified residents trapped in their homes for days have hoped for a halt long enough at least to get supplies or move to safer areas. The fighting erupted suddenly at the start of the last week of the Islamic holy month of fasting, Ramadan.
Damage from the fighting has been widespread. Videos posted online Tuesday showed Souq al-Bahri, a large outdoor market in northern Khartoum, in flames from nearby clashes. Satellite images from Maxar Technologies taken Monday showed damage across Khartoum, including to security service buildings. Tanks stood guard at a bridge over the White Nile River and other locations in the Sudanese capital.
Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC, also taken Monday, showed some 20 damaged civilian and military aircraft at Khartoum International Airport, which has a military section. Some had been completely destroyed, with one still belching smoke. At the El Obeid and Merowe air bases, north and south of Khartoum, several fighter jets were among the destroyed aircraft.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, tweeted Monday that the EU ambassador to Sudan “was assaulted in his own residency,” without providing further details.
The fighting is the latest chapter in Sudan’s turmoil since a popular uprising four years ago helped depose long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Burhan and Dagalo jointly orchestrated an October 2021 coup, derailing efforts to enshrine a civilian government. Both generals have a long history of human rights abuses, and their forces have cracked down on pro-democracy activists.