Intense battles have broken out between Sudan’s military and a rival paramilitary force after a three-day ceasefire expired.
The truce – brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia – ended on Wednesday at 6am (04:00 GMT). The ceasefire brought relative calm to Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, but fierce fighting was reported on Tuesday night in parts of the city.
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Residents said clashes centred around the intelligence agency’s headquarters near Khartoum International Airport.
“The battles have been intensified. Sounds of gunfire echoed across the area,” said Khalid Abdel-Rahman, who lives in Khartoum’s city centre.
Sudan descended into chaos in mid-April after months of rising tensions exploded into open fighting between rival generals seeking to control the country. The war pits the military, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a militia-turned-paramilitary force commanded by Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo.
A fire engulfed the intelligence service’s headquarters in Khartoum on Tuesday night as each side accused the other of attacking it.
A source within al-Burhan’s army accused the RSF of shelling the building. A source within the RSF said an “army drone bombed the building where RSF fighters gathered, sparking a fire and the partial destruction of the intelligence headquarters”.
Street battles were also reported around a military facility in the neighbouring city of Omdurman, according to area resistance committees, which are part of a wider network that spearheaded pro-democracy demonstrations over the past several years.
Residents of the city just across the Nile from the capital reported heavy artillery exchanges within minutes of the ceasefire’s expiration. Army warplanes flew low over several adjacent districts.
The resumption of fighting signalled that US and Saudi efforts to extend the truce had failed. Both Washington and Riyadh have been mediating between the warring factions to stop the clashes.
The conflict has been centred largely in the capital and western Sudan’s Darfur region, which has seen ethnically motivated attacks on non-Arab communities by RSF and allied militias, according to UN officials.
According to the US Department of State, up to 1,100 people have been killed in the capital of West Darfur state alone.
Bodies remain on the streets of el-Geneina, where months of unrest have left shops either vacant or gutted by looters.
The fighting in Sudan has killed thousands of people and forced more than 2.5 million to flee their homes to safer areas in the country or neighbouring nations, according to the UN migration agency.
About 25 million people – more than half of Sudan’s population – are in need of aid and protection, the United Nations said.
UN chief Antonio Guterres recently warned: “The scale and speed of Sudan’s descent into death and destruction is unprecedented.”
“Without strong international support, Sudan could quickly become a locus of lawlessness, radiating insecurity across the region,” he said.