Sudan: Heavy Battles in Sudan Despite Latest Truce, Over 70 Dead in Recent Violence

Heavy explosions and gunfire rocked Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and its twin city of Omdurman, residents said, despite the extension of a fragile truce between the county’s two top generals whose power struggle has left hundreds dead.

Sudanese medics say 74 were killed during two days of fighting in the West Darfur capital Al-Junaynah.

After two weeks of skirmishes that have turned Khartoum into a war zone and thrown Sudan into turmoil, a group of international mediators, including African and Arab nations, the United Nations and the United States — were intensifying their pressure on the rival generals to enter talks on resolving the crisis.

So far, however, they have managed to achieve only a series of temporary cease-fires that have failed to stop clashes but created enough of a lull for tens of thousands of Sudanese to flee to safer areas and for foreign nations to evacuate thousands of their citizens by land, air and sea.

In a sign of the persistent chaos, Turkey said one of its evacuation planes was hit by gunfire outside Khartoum on Friday hours after both sides accepted a 72-hour truce extension. There were no casualties.

An on the ground account from Sudan 💔 pic.twitter.com/3Yh9yFZ6AD— Amnesty International (@amnesty) April 28, 2023

Fierce clashes with frequent explosions and gunfire continued Friday in Khartoum’s upscale neighborhood of Kafouri, where the military’s warplanes bombed its rivals, the Rapid Support Forces, residents said.

Clashes were also reported around the military’s headquarters, the Republican Palace and the area close to the Khartoum international airport.

All these areas have been flashpoints since the war between the military and the RSF erupted on 15 April. Explosions also rang out across the river in Omdurman.

Doctors in the Sudanese capital said the RSF has been abducting medical personnel to treat its wounded fighters — a sign the paramilitary was struggling to get medical support.

One doctor forwarded to The Associated Press a voice note shared on a chat group for Sudanese healthcare workers, warning them not to wear medical uniforms or hand over identification listing a profession if fighters stop them on the street.

Nada Fadul, a Sudanese-American infectious disease physician at the University of Nebraska who is working with community health leaders in Sudan, said she knows of five doctors taken by the RSF from Khartoum streets since the start of the fighting.

One abducted doctor said he was forcibly taken to an unknown location in Khartoum earlier this week.

There, he saw dozens of wounded fighters, a stockpile of medical supplies and two other kidnapped doctors working.

He spent three days treating fighters with gunshot wounds, burns and other injuries before he and the others were released on Wednesday night, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for his safety.

The Turkish Defence Ministry said light weapons were fired at a C-130 aircraft heading to Wadi Sayidna airbase on Khartoum’s northern outskirts to evacuate Turkish civilians. The plane landed safely, the ministry said in a tweet, and no personnel were injured.

The Sudanese military blamed the RSF, which denied firing on the plane.

Over the past 14 days of pummeling each other, the military led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the RSF led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have each failed to deal a decisive blow to the other in their struggle for control of Africa’s third largest nation.

Still, world powers have struggled to get them to silence the weapons even for nominal truces. A bloc of east African nations has put forward a initiative for the two sides to hold talks, and a gamut of mediators are promoting the plan, including the African Union, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.

Burhan on Friday ruled out negotiations with Dagalo, accusing him of orchestrating a rebellion against the state, a day after the military expressed openness to the talks under the initiative. “Dagalo wants to rule Sudan, seize its resources and magnify his wealth,” Burhan said in an interview with US-funded Alhurra TV, denying that he wants power for himself.

Both Burhan and Dagalo have been involved in crushing pro-democracy activists and together they pushed out civilians from an interim government in a coup in 2021.

The former allies fell out in recent months in disputes over an internationally brokered deal meant to pave the way back to a civilian government, including over the issue of incorporating the RSF into the military.

Sudan’s sitting military government is not committed to transition to civilian rule and that’s where the clashes emanate. Armed Forces’ Burhan and RFS’s Dagalo are the bad leaders here…either they be killed or thrown out for elections to happen and peace prevail. SIMPLE. pic.twitter.com/l9JSXZVG31— Dan Ojowa for President (@DanOjowa) April 24, 2023

The rivals’ battles in the streets with artillery barrages, airstrikes and gun fights have wreaked misery on millions of Sudanese caught between them.

Many have left Khartoum to the northern borders with Egypt, or to the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Around 40,000 South Sudanese, Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees who had been living in the capital have fled Khartoum since fighting erupted, the UN’s refugee agency said Friday.

Many are now sheltering in refugee camps in White Nile, al-Qadarif and Kassala provinces, said Fathi Kasina, a UNHCR spokesman. Sudan hosts more than 1.3 million refugees, including more than 800,000 from South Sudan, according to UN figures.