Fighting continues in Sudan hours after ceasefire was to begin
The regular army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) accused each other of failing to respect the truce.
Fighting raged in Sudan hours after an internationally brokered truce was supposed to have come into effect, as forces loyal to dueling generals battled for key locations in the capital and accused each other of violating the ceasefire.
Loud gunfire reverberated on Tuesday in the background of live feeds by multiple television news channels in the Khartoum capital region minutes after the agreed 6pm (16:00 GMT) onset of the ceasefire.
The regular army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) issued statements accusing each other of failing to respect the ceasefire. The army’s high command said it would continue operations to secure the capital and other regions.
“We have not received any indications here that there’s been a halt in the fighting,” United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a news briefing in New York.
The conflict between Sudan’s military leader and his deputy on Sudan’s ruling council erupted four days ago, derailing an internationally backed plan for a transition to a civilian democracy four years after the fall of former leader Omar al-Bashir to mass protests and two years after a military coup.
The fighting has triggered what the UN has described as a humanitarian catastrophe, including the near collapse of the health system. The organisation’s World Food Programme suspended operations after three of its employees were killed.
At least 185 people have died in the conflict, according to the UN.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking in Japan, said on Tuesday that he had telephoned the two rival leaders – army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – and had appealed for a ceasefire “to allow the Sudanese to be safely reunited with families” and to provide them with relief.
Sides say they are for truce
Both sides told Al Jazeera that they supported the agreed upon ceasefire.
“We are keen to implement the truce and restore normal life in the city. But the RSF is a militia that does not respect anything,” said Colonel Khaled Al-Akida, an army spokesman.
Meanwhile, the RSF said it will uphold its part of the truce agreement.
“Our forces deployed in various areas of Khartoum are committed to the truce,” Musa Khaddam, adviser to the commander of the RSF, told Al Jazeera.
Al-Burhan heads a ruling council installed after the 2021 military coup and the 2019 removal of al-Bashir, while Dagalo – better known as Hemedti – is his deputy on the ruling council.
Their power struggle has stalled the plan for a shift to civilian rule after decades of autocracy and military domination in Sudan, which sits at a strategic crossroads between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Africa’s volatile Sahel region.
Unless controlled, the violence also risks drawing in actors from Sudan’s region who have backed different factions.
A previous, shorter ceasefire agreed upon for Sunday was also widely ignored. Artillery volleys, attacks by combat aircraft and street fighting have made it almost impossible to travel in Khartoum, trapping residents and foreigners in their homes.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was nearly impossible to provide humanitarian services around the capital. It warned that Sudan’s health system was at risk of breakdown.