After a brief pause to address humanitarian needs, intense fighting has once again erupted in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. This marks the second day of violent clashes between competing military factions vying for power in the African nation.
The ongoing conflict between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has resulted in the tragic deaths of 97 civilians, as a group of doctors reported. This has sparked a global outcry and raised concerns in the region, leading to the closure of borders by neighbouring countries such as Egypt and Chad.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened an emergency meeting in response to the ongoing crisis in Sudan. Following the meeting, IGAD announced its intention to dispatch the presidents of Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti to Khartoum to facilitate reconciliation efforts between the conflicting groups. The delegation is expected to arrive in Sudan at the earliest opportunity.
An outbreak of violence, the first since the unification of rival factions to oust Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, erupted on Saturday. The violence was triggered by a dispute over integrating the RSF into the military, a crucial step towards achieving civilian rule.
On Sunday, witnesses reported loud explosions and intense gunfire rattled buildings in Khartoum's densely-populated northern and southern suburbs. Tanks were seen rumbling along the streets while fighter jets roared overhead, creating a chaotic and unsettling atmosphere.
As darkness descended, residents of the metropolis took refuge in their abodes for the second consecutive day, apprehensive that an extended altercation could precipitate the nation into further pandemonium, shattering their longstanding aspirations for a shift towards a democratic regime led by civilians.
Residents have expressed fear and sleeplessness due to constant noise and house shaking for the past 24 hours. Huda, a young resident in southern Khartoum, said her concerns to the Reuters news agency regarding the potential shortage of water, food, and medicine for her diabetic father.
Amidst a sea of misinformation, the pervasive sentiment is deceit and dishonesty. The individual stated, "The duration and outcome of this situation remain uncertain."
According to the Sudanese Doctor's Union, the number of civilian casualties resulting from the two-day conflict has now reached a minimum of 97. According to recent reports, the number of deaths in Sudanese violence has risen significantly, with hundreds of individuals sustaining injuries. Additionally, the World Health Organization has issued a warning regarding the dire state of several Khartoum hospitals, which lack essential supplies such as blood, transfusion equipment, and intravenous fluids.
On Sunday evening, the army announced that they had accepted a proposal from the United Nations to establish a safe route for humanitarian cases. This included transporting injured individuals for three hours, concluding at 17:00 GMT.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has confirmed the measure taken by both sides and highlighted their mutual right to respond in case of any transgressions from either side.
Amidst the temporary lull, the resonating sound of intense gunfire persisted in the central region of Khartoum, near the airport. The surrounding vicinity was engulfed in thick, dark smoke emanating from the area.
According to Al Jazeera's correspondent Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum on Sunday evening, the previously announced three-hour humanitarian ceasefire between the conflicting parties has now concluded.
The brief period of ceasefire has already elapsed. Between the hours of 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM local time, the incident occurred. During three hours, the sounds of heavy artillery were audible in different areas of the capital city, Khartoum. According to Morgan, smoke was observed emanating from both the southern and northern regions of the city.
The three-hour ceasefire period was implemented to facilitate the escape of individuals trapped in the vicinity of the presidential palace and the general command of the army, as well as those in areas near the RSF bases that were under attack from Sudanese army fighter jets.
Tensions between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, have boiled over into violence after weeks of power struggles. Hemedti is in charge of the heavily-armed RSF, and the clashes have resulted in a volatile situation. The altercation was marked by mutual accusations of instigation between the involved parties.
According to the RSF, they have taken control of key locations such as the presidential palace and Khartoum airport. However, the army maintains that they are still in charge.
Witnesses have reported that the army has launched fresh air raids on RSF bases in Omdurman, Khartoum's sister city across the Nile. The attacks have also been reported in the adjacent Bahri region's Kafouri and Sharg En Nile districts. Reuters reported this information.
Reports indicate that clashes have broken out in both the western Darfur region and the eastern border state of Kassala. According to witness Hussein Saleh, the army has allegedly fired artillery at a camp belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Kassala.
'Justice Without Delay'
In a recent development, the United Nations (UN) reported that three World Food Programme (WFP) personnel lost their lives on Saturday during violent confrontations in North Darfur. Consequently, the UN has temporarily suspended all its operations in Sudan.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged for prompt justice following the demise of several civilians, including the individuals above. In a statement, he cautioned that any intensification in the ongoing conflict would exacerbate the already fragile state of the humanitarian crisis.
According to the United Nations, a staggering one-third of Sudan's population desperately needs humanitarian assistance.
Calls for an end to the ongoing conflict have been made by various nations and organizations worldwide. These include the United States, the United Kingdom, China, the European Union, and Russia. Pope Francis has also expressed concern over the situation and called for dialogue.
During a meeting of the eight-member IGAD bloc, regional leaders emphasized the need for "decisive action on the crisis in Sudan". They appealed for an "immediate cessation of hostilities between the warring parties."
In a recent development, the bloc has reportedly dispatched a delegation comprising William Ruto from Kenya, Salva Kiir from South Sudan, and Ismail Omar Guelleh from Djibouti to Sudan to facilitate reconciliation between the conflicting groups. The office of the Kenyan President has confirmed this information. The delegation is expected to embark on this mission at the earliest opportunity.
According to a tweet from Ruto's office, IGAD leaders have emphasized the significance of Sudan's stability in ensuring social and economic stability in the region. The leaders have requested both groups to establish a secure pathway for humanitarian aid in Khartoum and other impacted areas.
According to sources, the African Union has announced that a high-ranking official will be dispatched to Sudan urgently to negotiate a ceasefire.