Intense clashes in Sudan’s capital after ceasefire extended
DUBAI — Intense clashes could be heard in Sudan’s capital on Tuesday, residents said, after military factions battling for more than six weeks agreed to extend a ceasefire aimed at allowing aid to reach civilians.
The army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to extend a week-long ceasefire deal by five days just before it was due to expire late on Monday.
The truce was brokered and is being remotely monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States, which say it has been violated by both sides but has still allowed for the delivery of aid to an estimated 2 million people.
“We hope this truce succeeds even if only to stop the war a little and that we can return to our normal lives. We have hope in the truce and we don’t have other options,” said Hind Saber, a 53-year-old resident of Khartoum.
Hours before the ceasefire extension was signed, residents reported intensive fighting in all three of the adjoining cities that make up Sudan’s greater capital around the confluence of the Nile – Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri.
Clashes resumed late on Tuesday on the outskirts of the cities.
In a statement the RSF accused the army of violating the ceasefire, saying that it defended itself against an attack and took over an army base.
The war has caused nearly 1.4 million people to flee their homes, including more than 350,000 that have crossed into neighboring countries.
Areas of the capital have been hit by widespread looting and frequent cuts to power and water supplies. Most hospitals have been put out of service.
The United Nations, some aid agencies, embassies and parts of Sudan’s central government have moved operations to Port Sudan, in Sudan’s Red Sea state, the main shipping hub which has seen little unrest.
On Tuesday, the state’s security committee said it had caught several “rebellious” sleeper cells that it said had sneaked in from outside and warned that they were planning activities.
“We thank the citizens of Red Sea state for their total cooperation and for immediately reporting the presence of these rebellious elements and their agents within their neighborhoods,” it said, without specifying their identity.
The committee later extended a state of emergency and declared a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m in Port Sudan.
The conflict erupted on April 15 over internationally backed plans for a transition to elections under a civilian government.
Leaders of the army and the RSF had held the top positions on Sudan’s ruling council since former leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled during a popular uprising in 2019.
They staged a coup in 2021 as they were due to hand leadership of the council to civilians, before falling out over the chain of command and restructuring of the RSF under the planned transition.
Army leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan appeared in a video on Tuesday greeting troops. He said that the army had agreed to the ceasefire extension to ease citizens’ access to services.
“The army hasn’t used its full deadly power, but it will be forced to do so if the enemy does not obey or listen to the voice of reason,” he said in a statement.
U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said more than 13.6 million children in Sudan, a country of 49 million people, were in urgent need of lifesaving humanitarian support.
The U.N. World Food Program, which expects up to 2.5 million people in Sudan to slip into hunger in coming months, said that 17,000 metric tonnes of food had been looted since the conflict began.
WFP said on Monday that it had begun to distribute food in parts of the capital for the first time since the outbreak of fighting.
U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk warned on Tuesday that fighting in Khartoum, which has spread to the war-weary Darfur region, could take on an “inter-ethnic dimension which would be terrible”.