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Khartoum Clashes Continue


FILE: People flee their neighborhoods amid fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Khartoum on April 19, 2023, following the collapse of a 24-hour truce.
FILE: People flee their neighborhoods amid fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Khartoum on April 19, 2023, following the collapse of a 24-hour truce.

KHARTOUM - Sudan's military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Buran dismissed the possibility of talks as explosions and gunfire resounded in Sudan's capital Thursday, with fighting between the forces of two rival generals showing no signs of abating ahead of festivities marking Eid, the end of Ramadan.

Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said Thursday there was "no room" for negotiations with his rival paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as fighting between the two sides rage.

"I do not think there is any room for talks over politics again with the Rapid Support Forces" led by Dagalo, Burhan told TV news channel Al-Jazeera.

Al-Burhan said he was open for mediation but there will be no "direct" talks with the paramilitaries.

The U.N. secretary-general called Thursday for a ceasefire of "at least three days" in Sudan over Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

"We are living a very important moment in the Muslim calendar. I think this is the right moment for a ceasefire to hold," Antonio Guterres told reporters, adding that "we have been in contact with the parties, we believe it is possible."

The United States is deploying forces to prepare for the possible evacuation of American embassy staff in Sudan as rival factions battle in Khartoum, the Pentagon said Thursday.

"We are deploying additional capabilities nearby in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of US Embassy personnel from Sudan," the Pentagon said in a statement.

More than 300 people have been killed since the fighting erupted Saturday between forces loyal to Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Some of the fiercest battles have taken place in the capital Khartoum, a city home to five million people, most of whom have been cloistered in their homes without electricity, food and water.

"We were awoken today at around 4:30 am to the roaring sound of fighter jets and air strikes," said Nazek Abdalla, a 38-year-old in southern Khartoum. "We locked our doors and windows hoping no stray bullets would hit our building."

The violence entered a sixth day after another truce unraveled on Wednesday, with the crackle of gunfire heard and columns of thick black smoke seen rising from buildings around Khartoum International Airport and the army headquarters in the capital.

Khartoum's streets are largely empty of civilians, who are hunkered indoors hoping to escape the fighting. Or, they're leaving town with a few belongings.

"There's no food, supermarkets are empty, the situation isn't safe, honestly, so people are leaving," said Khartoum resident who gave only his first name, Abdelmalek.

The RSF issued a statement about the breakdown in the announced Wednesday truce, saying it came under attack in Omdurman and inflicted losses on the army in response, including shooting down two helicopters.

Reuters could not independently verify the RSF's claims.

Some of the most intense fighting has been focused around the compound housing the army HQ and the residence of Sudan's military ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The army controls access to Khartoum and appeared to be trying to cut off supply routes to RSF fighters, residents and witnesses said.

The two military factions are also fighting in other parts of Sudan, including the western Darfur region, site of a brutal conflict that escalated after 2003 and displaced more than 2 million people.

"We wish the fighting would stop during Eid festivities" which is to begin Friday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of fasting, said Abdalla, the resident of southern Khartoum.

"We know it will not happen though," he lamented.

al-Burhan and Dagalo's bitter dispute centered around the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army - a key condition for a final deal aimed at restoring Sudan's democratic transition.

Meanwhile, the conflict has dashed hopes for progress towards democracy in Sudan, risks drawing in its neighbors, and could play into regional power plays. Sudan sits strategically between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Africa's volatile Sahel region.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.