Fighting between Sudanese army, paramilitary forces continues into night
KHARTOUM - The armed conflict between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued into the night on Saturday in the capital Khartoum, sparking concerns for a wider conflict in the country.
The initial gunfire near an RSF base south of Khartoum in the morning quickly spread to other areas in the capital, including the Sudanese Army General Command and Khartoum International Airport.
Fighting continued into the night as residents said they still heard the sounds of gunfire and explosions in different parts of Khartoum, including around the military's headquarters and other bases.
The latest conflict capped the days of escalating tensions between the two main military forces in Sudan, which has been grappling with a political crisis since October 2021.
The two sides traded accusations of initiating the conflict. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Army, accused the RSF of attacking sovereign headquarters in Khartoum, including his own residence in the Army General Command.
According to Xinhua, in a telephone interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel, Al-Burhan stated that "the Rapid Support Forces are the ones who attacked our headquarters," adding he was taken by surprise when the RSF attacked his house at 9.00 am (0700 GMT).
In response, RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo told Al-Jazeera that the army is the one who started the attack. The RSF also announced that it had taken control of the presidential palace, a strategic guesthouse within the army's headquarters, and the Khartoum International Airport in the capital.
The RSF also claimed to have seized control of Merowe and El-Obeid airports, as well as other strategic sites in the states, according to a statement released earlier on Saturday.
However, the Sudanese army denied that the RSF had taken control of any sovereign sites, stating that "all sites are under the control of the armed forces. The Rapid Support Forces use psychological warfare based on misinformation".
Videos posted on social media showed the Sudanese army targeting the headquarters of the RSF in Khartoum with warplanes, but Dagalo denied that the headquarters of his forces had been destroyed by the Sudanese army.
Meanwhile, Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority announced the suspension of flights at Khartoum International Airport after clashes broke out inside the airport, damaging two planes, one belonging to Saudi Airlines and the other to the United Nations.
While no official statistics were released on the number of casualties or injuries during the violent clashes, the Sudan Doctors' Committee stated that at least three civilians were killed, adding there was a significant number of casualties that had not yet been counted.
Media reports indicated that at least 12 people were killed during the conflict.
The committee called on the Sudanese army and the RSF to cease fire and provide safe passages for transporting the injured to hospitals.
Various countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Iran have issued statements urging Sudan's conflicting parties to exercise restraint, prioritise dialogue, and protect civilians. The Egyptian Armed Forces have also called for the safety of their forces training in Sudan.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has called for an immediate halt to the armed clashes, expressing shock and condemnation, and stressing the responsibility of the warring parties to protect the security and safety of Sudanese civilians.
The tension between the two military forces has escalated since Wednesday in the Merowe region in northern Sudan, after the RSF moved military vehicles to a location near the military air base there, a move that the army considered illegal.
Deep differences have emerged between the Sudanese army and the RSF, particularly regarding the latter's integration into the army as stipulated in a framework agreement signed between military and civilian leaders on Dec 5, 2022 - BERNAMA