Conflicts & War

30 Dead as army, paramilitaries vie for power in Sudan

Khartoum, Apr 15 (EFE).- Long-simmering tensions between Sudan’s army and a militia promoted by former dictator Omar al-Bashir escalated Saturday into clashes that left 30 people dead and 400 wounded, according to the United Nations.

UN officials told The New York Times that those numbers were based on reports from hospitals.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), which earlier spoke of three confirmed civilian deaths, appealed for doctors and surgeons to go to the Al-Bashaer and East Nile hospitals near Khartoum, and the El Fashir Hospital in North Darfur, to help treat a large number of critical cases.

The Rapid Support Force (RSF), which developed from the Janjaweed militias accused of committing crimes against humanity during the 2003-2008 Darfur conflict, has emerged as a rival to the army since the toppling of Al-Bashir in 2019.

The army commander, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized control of the Sovereignty Council in October 2021 and has yet to establish a timetable for a return to civilian rule.

Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, leads the RSF and is vice president of the Transitional Sovereignty Council that took charge following the ouster of Al-Bashir.

“The Rapid Support Forces were surprised Saturday with a large force from the army entering camps in Soba in Khartoum and laying siege to paramilitaries there,” the RSF said in a statement.

“What the Armed Forces Command and a number of officers did represents a clear violation of our forces, which were committed to peace and restraint,” the statement said.

RSF claimed to have seized the presidential palace, Khartoum International Airport and Merowe airbase in northern Sudan.

Hemedti said on Twitter late Saturday that his troops were in control of most of Sudan’s military installations, had seized more than 200 armored vehicles, and had captured the airport in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state.

The Sudanese army said that it was facing “the brutal aggression” of the RSF and that it would protect the country from “their betrayal.”

Brig. Gen. Nabil Abdallah said that the Saturday morning operation was in response to an RSF attack on several army camps in Khartoum.

And Al-Burhan told Al Jazeera that the RSF attacked his residence at army headquarters around 9:00 am Saturday.

In a recorded telephone call to the Qatar-based network, Al-Burhan said that the army held the presidential palace, the military headquarters, and the capital airport.

The army subsequently rejected the idea of talks with the RSF to end the fighting.

“There will be no negotiation or dialogue before dissolving and breaking up the rebellious Hemedti militia,” the military said in a communique.

Hemedti, in a live interview with Al Jazeera, called Al-Burhan a criminal and a liar and said that “no one should listen to him.”

“I cannot give a time limit to the fighting, however, we are adamant to end it with the least of losses,” he said. “I assure you that units from the armed forces have joined our ranks in Merowe. Many other units have surrendered.”

The United States, Russia, Egypt, and other countries urged an immediate end to the fighting, as did the UN and the African Union.

“The Secretary-General is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sudan,” the spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.

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