Thousands of residents fled Sudan’s capital today as fighting between the army and paramilitaries, that has killed more than 200 people, raged for a fifth day after a 24-hour truce collapsed. The violence erupted on Saturday between the forces of two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
It followed a bitter dispute between Burhan and Daglo over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army, a key condition for a final deal aimed at resuming Sudan’s democratic transition.
Loud explosions and heavy gunfire were heard in the capital today morning, as witnesses said plumes of thick black smoke emanated from buildings around the army headquarters in central Khartoum.
The witnesses said, RSF fighters atop armored vehicles and pick-up trucks laden with heavy weapons and ammunition swarmed the streets, as the army’s fighter jets roared overhead and fired on RSF targets.
Civilians huddled in their homes were becoming increasingly desperate, with dwindling food supplies, power outages, and a lack of running water. Their hopes of being evacuated were dashed yesterday when a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire collapsed within minutes of its proposed start at 1600 GMT.
Today morning, thousands of people took matters into their own hands and began leaving their homes in Khartoum, some in cars and others on foot. Foreign Governments have started planning to evacuate their nationals, among them many UN staff. Japan said today that its defense ministry had begun the “necessary preparations” to evacuate around 60 of its nationals from Sudan, including embassy staff.
Electricity and water are out in many parts of Khartoum, forcing residents to sneak out during lulls in fighting to buy food and supplies. The latest violence, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, came after more than 120 civilians had already been killed in a crackdown on regular pro-democracy demonstrations over the past 18 months.