Fighting in the Sudanese capital has raged after a day of deadly battles between paramilitaries and the regular army, leaving at least 56 people dead and nearly 600 wounded, according to a doctors’ union.
The union released its latest casualty toll early on Sunday.
A total of 56 civilians were killed and 595 others were wounded in clashes across Sudan, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said, a day after fighting broke out between Sudan’s military and a government’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces [RSF].
Explosions and gunfire rang out on the deserted streets of Khartoum, according to witnesses, after the paramilitaries said they were in control of the presidential place, Khartoum airport and other vital facilities.
The army denied the claims, and in a statement, the Sudanese air force urged people to stay indoors as it continued air strikes against bases of the paramilitary RSF.
Windows rattled and apartment buildings shook in many parts of Khartoum during the clashes, with explosions heard early on Sunday.
Bakry, 24, who works in marketing, said Khartoum residents had “never seen anything like” this unrest, which left dark smoke hanging over the capital.
“People were terrified and running back home. The streets emptied very quickly”, said Bakry, who gave only a first name.
Violence erupted after weeks of deepening tensions between military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, over the planned integration of Daglo’s RSF into the regular army.
The integration was a key element of talks to finalise a deal that would return the country to civilian rule and end the political-economic crisis sparked by the military’s 2021 coup.
Created in 2013, the RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militia that then-president Omar al Bashir unleashed against non-Arab ethnic minorities in the western Darfur region a decade earlier, drawing accusations of war crimes.
Calls for peace
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and discussed ways to de-escalate with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi and African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki.
He also spoke with Burhan and Daglo urging them “to return to dialogue.”
International powers — Türkiye, US, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the African Union — all called for an end to the hostilities.
The Arab League, following a request by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is scheduled to hold an urgent meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation in Sudan.
In a joint call, the Saudi and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers, along with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, emphasised “the importance of stopping the military escalation”, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.