Reports of Explosions and Gunfire in Sudan’s Capital, Khartoum
Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, was rocked by heavy gunfire on Saturday, following days of tension between the army and a powerful paramilitary group. Witnesses reported “confrontations” and loud explosions and gunfire near a base held by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in south Khartoum. The source of the gunfire was not immediately known.
The rift between the forces came to the surface on Thursday when the army said recent movements by the RSF had happened without coordination and were illegal. The RSF is a powerful paramilitary group that has been accused of committing atrocities in the Darfur region. The group was formed in 2013 as a counter-insurgency force to fight rebel groups in Darfur, but has since expanded its reach to other parts of Sudan.
On Friday and early on Saturday, the heads of both the army and RSF told mediators they were ready to take steps to de-escalate the situation. A confrontation between them could spell prolonged strife across a vast country already dealing with economic breakdown and flare-ups of tribal violence.
The situation in Sudan has been tense since the ousting of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. A transitional government was formed, but it has struggled to bring stability to the country. The RSF, which is headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, has played a key role in the transitional government.
Hemeti is seen as a powerful figure in Sudan, with close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He has been accused of using his position to amass wealth and influence. The RSF has also been accused of committing atrocities in Darfur, including rape, torture, and murder.
The RSF has denied the accusations and says it is fighting against rebel groups in Darfur. The group has also been accused of playing a role in the violent dispersal of a sit-in protest in Khartoum in June 2019, which left over 100 people dead.
The tension between the army and the RSF has been building for weeks. The army has accused the RSF of trying to undermine the transitional government and of being involved in a failed coup attempt in July. The RSF has denied the accusations and says it is committed to the transitional government.
The situation in Sudan is complex, with various groups vying for power and influence. The transitional government is made up of civilians and military officials, but it is the military that holds most of the power. The RSF is seen as a powerful force within the military, and its leader, Hemeti, is seen as a potential rival to the transitional government.
The situation in Sudan is also being closely watched by neighboring countries and international organizations. The African Union and the United Nations have both expressed concern about the situation and called for calm. The United States has also expressed concern and called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
The tension in Sudan comes at a time when the country is already dealing with economic breakdown and flare-ups of tribal violence. The country is also grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further strained its resources.
The situation in Sudan is fluid, and it is unclear how it will play out. The army and the RSF have both said they are committed to resolving the situation peacefully, but there are fears that a confrontation between them could lead to prolonged strife and instability in the country. The international community is calling on all sides to exercise restraint and work towards a peaceful resolution to the crisis.