Sudan in turmoil as bloody clashes in Khartoum leave 56 dead

Clashes in Sudan’s capital have continued into the early hours of Sunday, following a day of bloodshed between paramilitaries and the army that left at least 56 people dead and almost 600 injured. The Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitaries claimed possession of the presidential palace, Khartoum airport, and other critical facilities, which the Sudanese army has rejected. 

The Sudanese air force started strikes on an RSF base in Omdurman, a city adjacent to Khartoum, on Saturday.

The doctors’ union confirmed at least 56 deaths, including two at Khartoum airport and the rest in various parts of Sudan, including three UN workers.

A senior military official said RSF fighters clashed with troops at military headquarters early on Sunday and that a fire broke out at a facility for ground troops.

Human rights advocate Tahani Abass, who lives near the military headquarters, said: “The battles have not stopped.

“They are shooting against each other in the streets. It’s an all-out war in residential areas.”

Abass said her family spent the night huddling on the ground floor of their home, adding: “No one was able to sleep and the kids were crying and screaming with every explosion.”

Sounds of gunfire were heard while she was speaking to The Associated Press.

The military and the RSF both claim to be in control of strategic locations in Khartoum and elsewhere in the county. Their claims couldn’t be independently verified.

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Both sides signalled late on Saturday that they were unwilling to negotiate.

The military, headed by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, called for dismantling the RSF, labelled a “rebellious militia.”

The head of the RSF, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, told the satellite news network Al Arabyia that he ruled out negotiations.

Dagalo has called on Burhan to surrender.

Meanwhile, diplomatic pressure appeared to be mounting.

Top diplomats, including the US Secretary of State, the UN secretary-general, the EU foreign policy chief, the head of the Arab League and the head of the African Union Commission urged the sides to stop fighting. Members of the UN Security Council, at odds over other crises around the world, called for an immediate end of the hostilities and a return to dialogue.

Arab states with stakes in Sudan – Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – made similar appeals.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he consulted with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“We agreed it was essential for the parties to immediately end hostilities without pre-condition,” he said in a statement early on Sunday.

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