KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Clashes between rival military factions broke out on Wednesday in Sudan’s capital, residents said, threatening to shatter a fragile ceasefire designed to allow for the delivery of aid and lay the ground for a more lasting truce. The ceasefire deal, which is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States as […]
Clashes erupt in Sudan’s capital on second day of ceasefire deal
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Clashes between rival military factions broke out on Wednesday in Sudan’s capital, residents said, threatening to shatter a fragile ceasefire designed to allow for the delivery of aid and lay the ground for a more lasting truce.
The ceasefire deal, which is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States as well as the warring parties, comes after five weeks of intensive warfare in the capital Khartoum and outbursts of violence in other areas of the country, including the western region of Darfur.
Witnesses reported columns of black smoke rising to the west of central Khartoum and shelling near an army camp in southern Khartoum on Wednesday afternoon.
The sound of clashes and artillery fire could be heard in Bahri, one of the three cities around the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers that make up Sudan’s greater capital.
Witnesses in Omdurman, the third city, reported that an army fighter plane had been shot down, and the RSF released videos appearing to show the incident. The footage could not immediately be verified. Earlier, residents reported artillery fire near the Wadi Sayidna military base on the outskirts of Omdurman.
The ceasefire had brought a relative lull in fighting in Khartoum on Tuesday, though little sign of a rapid scale-up in humanitarian relief.
Aid workers said that many of the supplies and staff arriving at Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast have been awaiting security permits and guarantees.
The fighting pits Sudan’s army against the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and erupted as plans for an internationally backed political transition toward elections under a civilian government were set to be finalised.
The ceasefire was agreed to on Saturday following Saudi and U.S.-mediated talks in Jeddah. Previous ceasefire announcements have failed to stop the fighting.
Saudi Arabia and the United States late on Tuesday said members of a ceasefire monitoring mechanism, which includes representatives of the army and the RSF, had undertaken to engage their chains of command about reported truce violations.
The conflict has brought sustained air strikes and ground fighting to the capital region for the first time. Many residents are struggling to survive as they face prolonged water and power cuts, a collapse of health services and widespread lawlessness and looting.
The United Nations human rights chief called the situation in Sudan “heartbreaking” and said there were “very deeply troubling” accounts of sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur with at least 25 cases reported so far and the real number likely much higher.
Sudan was facing severe humanitarian pressures even before the conflict broke out on April 15 and forced more than 1.1 million people to flee their homes, threatening to destabilise the wider region.
More than 300,000 people have now fled Sudan to neighbouring countries, some of which are similarly impoverished and have a history of internal conflict. Many have crossed into Chad and Egypt in the last few days, Filippo Grandi, head of the U.N. refugee agency, said on Wednesday.
“Donor contributions to the refugee response plan remain scarce. We need more resources, urgently, to support countries hosting refugees,” he said on Twitter.
The U.N. says that the number of people requiring aid within Sudan has jumped to 25 million, more than half the population.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Dubai; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Christina Fincher, Mark Heinrich and Mark Porter)
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