(Khartoum) Fighting opposes Sunday for the second consecutive day the Sudanese army to a powerful paramilitary force, against the backdrop of a power struggle between the two generals in command since the putsch of 2021, killing at least 56 civilians in 24 hours.

In addition, “dozens” of fighters have been mowed down by bullets, rockets and other projectiles fired from tanks or planes since Saturday morning, reports a network of pro-democracy doctors, which lists more than 600 wounded.

Street fights and armored vehicles across the roads prevent any movement in the capital Khartoum where armed men in fatigues walk around crossing rare civilians, carrying a few things, in search of shelter.

Everywhere, columns of smoke have risen since Saturday from the city center where the main state institutions are located.

“It’s very worrying, it looks like it’s not going to calm down quickly,” said Ahmed Seif, who lives with his wife and three children in eastern Khartoum.

He fears that his building has been hit by gunfire, like many others, but says he is “afraid to go out and check” for fear of stray bullets and men in fatigues roaming the streets.

In Khartoum, the night was long. “The explosions and shootings have not stopped,” Ahmed Hamid, in the northern suburbs of Khartoum, told AFP.

According to witnesses, fighting with heavy weapons opposed, in the northern suburbs of Khartoum as well as in the south of the capital, the army to the Rapid Support Forces (FSR, made up of thousands of former militiamen from the war of Darfur who have become official auxiliaries to the regular troops).

The conflict had been simmering for weeks, preventing any political settlement in a country that has been trying since the popular uprising that toppled Omar al-Bashir in 2019 to hold its first free elections after 30 years of dictatorship.

During the putsch that ended the democratic transition in October 2021, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and FSR boss Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, appeared together, forming a common front to oust the power civilians.

But the rivalry between the two generals, latent for weeks, exploded on Saturday in Khartoum which awoke to the sound of explosions and fighting.

The international community is increasing calls for a ceasefire. The latest came from Beijing as Pope Francis called for “praying for arms to be laid down”. The Arab League and the African Union, where the great sponsors of Sudanese politics sit, were to meet urgently.

Sunday, again, the bombardments resounded in the deserted streets of Khartoum invaded by a strong smell of gunpowder.

The military had warned on Facebook: “The Air Force will carry out operations to finish off the rebel Rapid Support militias, civilians must stay at home”.

Witnesses also reported artillery fire in Kassala, in the east of the country.

Impossible in the state to know which force holds what. The FSR announced that they had taken the airport in a few hours on Saturday, but the army denied it. The FSR also said to hold the presidential palace. The army has denied and above all claims to hold the headquarters of its staff, one of the main power complexes in Khartoum.

As for the television, the two parties also claim to have taken it. In the surroundings, residents report continuous fighting while on the air – as during the putsch – only patriotic songs are broadcast without any commentary.

Because the open war between the generals is also media: on Saturday, Hemedti chained the interviews to the television channels of the Gulf, of which several States are his allies, multiplying the insults against his rival, General Burhane, who himself is not so far not appeared.

Hemedti has repeatedly demanded the departure of “Burhane the criminal”, while the army published on Facebook a “wanted notice” against Hemedti, “criminal on the run”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the two men to demand “an immediate end to the violence”. He also urged the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a big influential neighbor, to act when since Saturday Cairo has been worried about a video showing several of its soldiers apparently in the hands of RSF men.