Khartoum: Heavy violence continued in Sudan on Friday, despite rival generals’ agreement to extend a truce aimed at ending nearly two weeks of combat that has killed hundreds and left vast destruction.
Black clouds loomed above Khartoum amid new fighting, while the United Nations reported brutal urban combat in the war-torn Darfur region, where hundreds of people were killed.
Turkiye’s defense ministry claimed that one of its military transport planes had been shot down, emphasizing the dangers as foreign governments rush to complete evacuations of their citizens.
On April 15, violence erupted between Sudan’s army, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by his former deputy and fellow coup leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, with warplanes pounding RSF positions in densely packed Khartoum districts and fighters exchanging heavy machine gun fire.
After mediation spearheaded by the United States, Saudi Arabia, the African Union, and the United Nations, competing generals decided Thursday to extend a cease-fire that had been frequently violated for three days.
However, witnesses told AFP that they heard air strikes and anti-aircraft guns being fired near the army command in Khartoum, where many residents have been forced to stay at home due to dangerously low food supplies.
In an interview with the BBC, Daglo slammed the army head, stating, “Burhan is not trustworthy and is a traitor.” Sudan is being destroyed by this war.”
Burhan stated in an interview with the US-based channel Al-Hurra that “mercenaries” were streaming across the border from Chad, Central African Republic, and Niger to take advantage of the disarray.
According to health ministry estimates, at least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 have been injured in the conflict.
The Sudanese doctors’ organization warned Friday that the health-care system was “imminently collapsing,” with more than 12,000 patients at risk of dying because they couldn’t get regular renal dialysis.
According to the UN humanitarian organization, only 16% of health facilities in Khartoum were still operational, leaving millions without access to health care.
Fighting has also extended across Sudan, particularly in Darfur, where witnesses have described serious warfare and looting.
According to the Darfur Bar Association, a civil society organization, rebels were “launching rockets at houses” in El Geneina, the state capital of West Darfur, around 1,100 kilometers (685 miles) west of Khartoum. It also mentioned “rifles, machine guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.”
“There is no food except what people have stored at home,” claimed one resident, who did not want to be identified.
The fighting has extended “nearly all over the city,” according to the Bar Association, which has urged Burhan and Daglo to “immediately stop this foolish war that is being waged on the backs of civilians.”
According to UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani, 96 people have been killed in El Geneina since Monday.
The UN is “concerned about the serious risk of violence escalating in West Darfur,” Shamdasani said, noting that confrontations between the military and the RSF “have triggered intercommunal violence.”
Darfur is still reeling from the devastation caused by the horrific conflict that raged in the 2000s, when then-hardline president Omar Al-Bashir repressed ethnic-minority rebels by forming the Janjaweed militia to commit crimes, a group that eventually became the core of Daglo’s RSF.
According to UN estimates, the scorched-earth campaign killed at least 300,000 people and displaced about 2.5 million, and Bashir was charged by the International Criminal Court with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Several prisoners escaped jail during the chaos, including war crimes suspects from Bashir’s regime.
The UN expressed concern over the prison breaks, citing “the prospect of further violence, amid a generalized climate of impunity.”
The United States, whose officials have been mediating between the warring generals over the phone, recognized violations of the agreement.
“However, implementing cease-fires is frequently difficult at first.” Violations of the cease-fire do not imply its failure, said to State Department spokesman Vedant Patel.
Britain stated on Saturday that it would halt evacuation flights from Sudan after airlifting over 1,500 people this week.
According to the World Food Programme, the violence might cause millions more people to go hungry in a country where 15 million people — one-third of the population — already rely on help to avoid famine.
According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration, over 75,000 people have abandoned their homes, while tens of thousands have traveled into neighboring countries such as Chad, Egypt, and South Sudan.
The foreign ministry of South Sudan warned on Friday that the conflict’s “spillover effects are already visible.”
Burhan and Daglo — colloquially known as Hemeti — seized control in a 2021 coup that delayed Sudan’s transition to democracy, which was formed after Bashir was deposed in 2019 following widespread protests.
However, the two generals later clashed, most recently over the RSF’s planned integration into the regular army.