(Update: adds detail throughout, edits lead, headline)
Khartoum, Apr 18 (EFE).- The Sudanese army and paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces on Tuesday agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire, proposed by the United States, to ensure the safe passage of civilians and allow for the wounded to be evacuated.
The ceasefire began at 6pm local time, but eyewitnesses told EFE that gunfire and explosions were heard in central Khartoum within 15 minutes of the start of the proposed truce.
The RSF also accused the Sudanese army of violating the ceasefire that both warring parties had agreed to.
“The armed forces still insist on committing the most abominable crimes against civilians in violation of international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement, violating the internationally mediated truce”, the paramilitaries said in a statement published on their official Twitter account.
This was the first 24-hour ceasefire since the fighting began four days ago in Sudan, which has left at least 270 civilians dead and more than 2,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), citing the Sudanese Ministry of Health’s emergency operations center.
Heavy explosions were heard early Tuesday morning near the army’s headquarters in the center of the capital and near the airport, according to multiple local and Arab television stations.
Witnesses also reported heavy clashes between RSF troops and army soldiers in southern Khartoum, while armed forces jet fighters bombed a paramilitary group position in the north of the city.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that a US diplomatic convoy was attacked Monday in Sudan by the paramilitary forces.
All the members are “safe” after a “reckless and irresponsible” incident involving vehicles with diplomatic license plates, Blinken said.
UN special envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes told a press conference Monday that three aid workers from the World Food Program had been killed while trying to serve the Sudanese in North Darfur.
In total, 250 UN programs of all kinds have had to be interrupted and millions of people are without access to food, water and other vital services because of the fighting, according to the organization.
The Red Cross on Tuesday requested a humanitarian corridor to help those in need, saying it has been “almost impossible” to send aid to the capital.
“The Sudanese Red Crescent and the (Red Cross) have asked parties to facilitate the arrival of basic humanitarian services,” Farid Aiywar, head of the federation in Sudan, told a press conference, speaking by video call from Nairobi.
Aiywar said the population in Khartoum has had its water and electricity supplies cut off, and that IFRC volunteers are prepared to offer assistance, but “this will not be possible” until there are security guarantees from the warring parties.
“Without access to humanitarian aid there can be a collapse,” Aiywar said.
The clashes come after weeks of tensions between the army and the paramilitaries over the reform of the security forces during negotiations to form a new transitional government.
Both military forces were responsible for jointly overthrowing the transitional government of Sudan in a coup in October 2021. EFE