The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, has been rocked by fierce fighting between the army and a powerful paramilitary force for two consecutive days. Doctors have reported that at least 56 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the ongoing battles. Witnesses have described hearing the sounds of heavy artillery firing across Khartoum, as well as the adjoining city of Omdurman and nearby Bahri. Al Jazeera has shown footage of clouds of smoke billowing over the capital.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the military have been vying for power as political factions negotiate forming a transitional government after a 2021 military coup. The tensions stem from a disagreement between the military, headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, about how the paramilitary force should be integrated into the armed forces and what authority should oversee that process.
The situation in Khartoum remains tense, with civilians caught in the middle of the fighting. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reported that “it doesn’t look like the situation is de-escalating”. The army has stated that it will not negotiate with the RSF until those forces are dismantled and rebel troops are dealt with. Fighting has been taking place near the presidential palace, with battles over state television. The army claims to be in control of its headquarters and the Khartoum International Airport.
Global powers, including the US, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Nations, European Union and African Union, have all appealed for an immediate end to hostilities. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and said that the three countries “agreed it was essential” that the fighting in Sudan end. He urged both General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Degalo to take active measures to reduce tensions and ensure the safety of all civilians. Blinken stated that “the only way forward is to return to negotiations that support the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations”.
China has also expressed concern, with the foreign ministry in Beijing urging all sides in Sudan to cease fire to prevent the situation from escalating.