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Amid coup standoff: Sudan still in flux amid exchanges between army and paramilitary unit

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Casualty figures were nearing 100 as of April 17 according to a doctor’s group.

Eyewitnesses said many people were killed in the capital Khartoum, where sustained artillery fire, gunfire and explosions could be heard in several neighbourhoods.

These included at the airport, the state radio station and near the presidential palace in the north of the city.

One man died in a car that was run over by a tank, dpa learned.

There was also fighting in the south of the city, the base for paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – which was supposed to be integrated into the state military.

The RSF said in a statement they had taken control of the presidential palace and the airport but the army denied this on Twitter. The statements of both sides could not be verified.

Tanks and fighter planes were deployed, with media reports and eyewitnesses saying RSF forces had attacked the airport while the air force had hit RSF bases.

RSF said army soldiers had entered their headquarters.

Media reports said there were also clashes in the states of White Nile, North Kurdufan and North Darfur. Fierce fighting hit the town of Merowe – particularly around the airport – and the RSF said they had detained Egyptian soldiers there. Egypt works closely with the Sudanese military, but there was no confirmation of the allegation.

The military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has held power in Sudan since the overthrow of ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

The military and the RSF, under leader Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, jointly took power in 2021, but tensions between the two military men have increased in recent months.

Al-Burhan told Al-Jazeera TV that his house had been attacked but the situation was under control again.

However, Daglo told the same network that he wanted to bring al-Burhan and his allies to justice. Al-Burhan would either be captured “or die like a dog,” he said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that he “strongly condemns the outbreak of fighting” and called on both sides “to immediately cease hostilities, restore calm and initiate a dialogue to resolve the current crisis.”

He added: “Any further escalation in the fighting will have a devastating impact on civilians and further aggravate the already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.”

Guterres is engaging with regional leaders to try to find a solution and has already spoken with Daglo and plans to talk with al-Burhan.

Britain has called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday to discuss the situation in Sudan, diplomats told dpa.

The US ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, confirmed on Twitter that gunfire and fighting could be heard in Khartoum and warned that an escalation of tensions was “extremely dangerous.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: “Deeply concerned about reports of escalating violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces. We are in touch with the Embassy team in Khartoum – all are currently accounted for. We urge all actors to stop the violence immediately and avoid further escalations.”

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also called for an immediate end to the violence.

“An escalation will only aggravate the situation,” he warned via Twitter. The safety of citizens was the top priority, he said, while adding that all EU staff in the country were accounted for.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier has said it has suspended all flights to and from troubled Sudan after one of its aircraft was damaged by gunfire on Saturday at Khartoum airport.

Egypt’s state carrier, EgyptAir, has announced halting flights to and from Khartoum airport for 72 hours starting from Saturday due to the “instable security situation in Sudan.”

Only on Thursday, the Sudanese army had warned against a mobilization of the RSF. Observers saw the mobilization as a threatening gesture against al-Burhan.

Recently, Daglo had surprisingly spoken out in favour of a quick transition to civilian rule, thus putting himself in opposition to al-Burhan.

Source: GNA/DPA

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