Smoke rises above buildings in Khartoum, Sudan, 15 April 2023. EFE/EPA/MOHND AWAD

Deadly fighting erupts in Sudan as paramilitary clashes with army

Khartoum, Apr 15 (EFE).- Deadly clashes erupted on Saturday in Sudan after members of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group clashed with the army.

At least three civilians were killed and dozens injured, the Sudanese Doctors Union reported.

The union added that at least two citizens were killed at Khartoum airport, the largest in Sudan, and another was shot in Al Obeid, the south of the capital.

Tensions between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s military government and paramilitary groups led by the vice president of the Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, alias Hemedti, have escalated in recent days with the two factions blaming each other for the conflict.

“The Rapid Support Forces were surprised Saturday with a large force from the army entering camps in Soba in Khartoum and laying siege to paramilitaries there,” the RSF said in a statement.

According to the RSF, the paramilitary group has seized the Presidential Palace and guest house, Khartoum international airport, Marawi airport in northern Sudan bordering Egypt, and Al Obeid, in southern Sudan.

“What the Armed Forces Command and a number of officers did represents a clear violation of our forces, which were committed to peace and restraint,” the armed group said.

The RSF added that citizens were safe and that the situation was under control.

“The Rapid Support Forces will continue to protect the nation’s dignity, security and safety,” the statement added.

However, Sudan’s Army said that it was facing “the brutal aggression” of the RSF and that it would protect the country from “their betrayal.”

Brigadier-General Nabil Abdallah, an army spokesperson, said that the Saturday morning operation was in response to an RSF attack on several Khartoum army camps.

Sudan’s army has denied that RSF forces seized the presidential palace and other key sites across the capital claiming the armed group was spreading “lies” with support from abroad.

It has also moved to declare the RSF a “rebel force”.

The violent clashes have sparked an international outcry.

The United Nations said its special envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, had called for an “immediate” end to fighting saying he “strongly condemns the eruption of fighting in Sudan.”

“Perthes has reached out to both parties asking them for an immediate cessation of fighting to ensure the safety of the Sudanese people and to spare the country from further violence,” the UN statement read.

Speaking from Hanoi, United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the situation in Sudan was “fragile” and that there were other actors that could be “pushing against” the progress made in recent weeks to agree on a framework to complete the transition to a civilian-led government.

The Sudanese Army recently warned that the country was going through a “dangerous juncture” after the RSF mobilized forces in the capital and other cities without army chiefs being notified in advance.

“This is a violation of their role,” the army warned in a statement.

Hemedti on Friday expressed his willingness to seek a solution to escalating tensions without “bloodshed,” according to Sudanese officials who act as mediators between the military and the armed group.

The rivalry between the RSF and the military has delayed the democratic transition in Sudan.

A key condition for the agreement is for the RSF to be integrated into the military, but disagreements on how this should happen and what authority should oversee the process have led to a deadlock.

Sudan’s democratic transition started in 2019 with the toppling of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir.

It was interrupted on 25 October 2021, when al-Burhan seized control in a military coup.

The RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militias, accused of committing crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict (2003-2008). EFE