July 21, 2024

Dozens of people killed in clashes between Sudan’s armed forces and the main paramilitary group, RSF

Khartoum trainstation

Clashes between Sudan’s armed forces and the country’s main paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), have resulted in the deaths of over 50 people and left nearly 600 injured. The fighting took place in Khartoum’s airport, the nearby city of Omdurman, and in the cities of Nyala, El Obeid, and El Fasher, located west of the capital.

Sudan is located in northeastern Africa, bordered by Egypt to the north, Libya to the northwest, Chad to the west, the Central African Republic to the southwest, South Sudan to the south, Ethiopia to the southeast, and Eritrea to the east.

It is unclear whether civilians were among the victims. The RSF claimed to have seized several significant areas, including the presidential palace, army chief’s residence, state television station, and airports in Khartoum, Merowe, El Fasher, and West Darfur state. The army, however, rejected these assertions.

In response, the Sudanese air force instructed people to stay indoors, while the army deployed troops to restore order in the capital’s streets. Social media videos captured military jets flying low over the city and gunfire and explosions could be heard throughout the capital, with eyewitnesses reporting shooting in adjoining cities. The disagreement over the RSF’s integration into the military has delayed the signing of an internationally backed agreement with political parties on a transition to democracy, causing rising tensions.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, the leader of the RSF, has accused the army chief of being a “criminal” and a “liar,” while the army has called on the RSF to dissolve. The international community has called for an immediate end to the hostilities, with the US, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Nations, the European Union, and the African Union all issuing statements. After a phone call, the Saudi, US, and UAE foreign ministers called for a return to the framework agreement on the transition to democracy.

The prolonged confrontation between the RSF and the army could plunge Sudan into widespread conflict as the country struggles with economic breakdown and tribal violence, and could derail efforts to move towards elections. Chad has closed its border with Sudan, while Ethiopia and Kenya have called for restraint. The clashes also saw a Saudi Arabian airlines plane come under fire at Khartoum airport, leading to the suspension of flights to and from Sudan.

Below are five takeaways from Sudan conflict as of Saturday April 15, 2023

1.Sudan is experiencing a new wave of violence as its military and a powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, engage in intense battles that threaten hopes for a transition to democracy and raise fears of a wider conflict. The death toll has risen to 56, with at least 595 people wounded.

2. The conflict comes after months of tensions between the military and the RSF, which had delayed a deal with political parties to get the country back to its transition to democracy after a military coup in October 2021.

3. Diplomatic pressure is mounting on both sides to stop fighting, with top diplomats, including the U.S. Secretary of State and the heads of various regional organizations, calling for an immediate cease-fire and a return to negotiations.

4. The recent tensions stem from disagreement over how the RSF should be integrated into the armed forces and what authority should oversee the process. The merger is a key condition of Sudan’s unsigned transition agreement with political groups.

5. The fighting erupted early Saturday, with both sides trading blame over who started and who controlled strategic installations around the capital. The clashes also took place in other areas across the country, including the conflict-ravaged Darfur region and the strategic coastal city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Pro-democracy activists have blamed both military and RSF leaders for abuses against protesters and called for accountability.

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