The Sudanese army and rival paramilitary forces, which have been fighting for control of the country for the past four days, agreed on Tuesday to a 24-hour ceasefire, Arab media reported.
As intensified fighting is threatened, there are hopes for at least a pause in violence further into chaos. Millions of Sudanese in capital and other major cities shelter in their homes amid crossfire when two forces attacked a residential area Strike with artillery and air and engage in shootouts in the streets.
In the past day, militants in Khartoum attacked a convoy at the U.S. embassy and attacked the residence of the EU envoy to Sudan, but both attacks resulted in no casualties. A convoy of clearly marked U.S. embassy vehicles was attacked on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters, with initial reports linking the attackers to the Rapid Support Forces, which are prepared to fight Sudanese forces military organization. Everyone in the convoy is safe, he said.
Satellite channels Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera quoted a senior military official, Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi, as saying the military would abide by the ceasefire. CNN Arabic quoted the head of the military, General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, as saying it would take part in the one-day truce. Earlier in the day, the military’s counterpart, the Rapid Support Forces, said it would abide by a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
However, military officials did not immediately announce a ceasefire publicly. There were still reports of clashes in the afternoon around the army headquarters and near the adjacent airport, the two main battle zones since fighting first broke out on Saturday. Fighting also broke out around the Merowe strategic air base, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) northwest of Khartoum.
More than 185 people have been killed and more than 1,800 wounded since the fighting began on Saturday, according to United Nations figures, not counting civilians and combatants. At least 144 civilians were killed and more than 1,400 wounded, the Sudanese doctor syndicate said on Tuesday.
The overall death toll is likely to be much higher, as clashes in Khartoum have prevented the transfer of bodies from some areas.
Sudanese are trying to reinvigorate a democratic, civilian government after decades of military rule amid the specter of civil war. Amid growing panic, Blinken stepped up ceasefire efforts.
Later Monday, he had separate phone calls with two rival generals — the chief of the armed forces, General Burhanand RSF leaders General Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo – Seeking a 24-hour truce as a basis for a longer truce and return to negotiations.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Dagalo said he had approved the 24-hour humanitarian truce after speaking with Blinken.
The military’s initial response appeared to deny any cessation. It said in a statement that it was “not aware of any coordination” with the mediators to reach an agreement on a truce and that more troops would join the fight. It said the fighting had “entered a decisive phase” and that the RSF would be “lost” in the next few hours.
Local residents said more tanks and armored vehicles belonging to the military rolled into Khartoum early on Tuesday, heading towards the military headquarters and seat of power, the Palace of the Republic. At night, fighter jets swooped overhead and anti-aircraft fire lit up the sky.
Fighting resumed early Tuesday around both sides’ main bases and strategic government buildings — all of which are in residential areas. Video from the Arab television network Al Arabiya showed a massive explosion near the main military headquarters in central Khartoum, setting off a huge cloud of smoke and dust.
Satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies on Monday showed damage across Khartoum, including the security services building. Tanks stand guard on a bridge over the White Nile and elsewhere in Sudan’s capital.
Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC, also taken on Monday, showed damage to around 20 civilian and military aircraft at Khartoum International Airport, which has a military area. Some have been completely destroyed, only one is still smoking. Several fighter jets were destroyed at El Obeid and Merowe air bases north and south of Khartoum.
Both sides have deployed tens of thousands of troops in the Khartoum area and around the city of Omdurman across the Nile. This brings fighting and chaos – gun battles, artillery fire and air strikes – to the doorsteps of the city’s terrified residents.
Residents reported that armed men looted shops and homes. A resident near Khartoum’s Arab market said he saw a group of armed men in RSF uniforms smashing the doors of shops in the area and stealing goods, including mobile phones. The paramilitary forces have denied the allegations and claimed that some disguised themselves as RSF troops and stormed the residence.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter on Monday that the bloc’s ambassador to Sudan was “attacked in his own residence”, without providing further details.
A Western diplomat based in Cairo said the residence was ransacked by armed men in RSF uniforms. No one was hurt, but the armed men stole several items, the diplomat said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The RSF has denied any involvement in the attack, blaming the military instead. The military blamed the RSF, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militia in Sudan’s Darfur region, for attacking the US convoy and the residence of the EU envoy.
Earlier Sunday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Whitfelt said in a statement that the residence of the Norwegian ambassador in Khartoum had been hit by shells. The attack caused damage but the ambassador was not injured, she said, adding that the residence did not appear to have been deliberately targeted.
Just four years ago, Sudan sparked hope after a popular uprising helped Remove longtime autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir.
Curated by Burhan and Dagalo Coup in October 2021, undermining efforts to establish a civilian government. Both generals have long histories of human rights abuses, and their troops have cracked down on pro-democracy activists.
Under international pressure, Burhan and Dagalo recently agreed to a framework agreement with political parties and pro-democracy groups. But the signing has been repeatedly delayed amid rising tensions over the RSF’s integration into the armed forces and future chain of command – tensions that erupted into violence on Saturday.
—Jack Jeffery and Sammy Magdy, The Associated Press