(Khartoum) Fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Sudan has left at least 27 dead and 170 injured, particularly in the capital Khartoum, the Syndicate of Doctors reported on Sunday morning.
According to AFP correspondents, windows rattled and buildings shook in many parts of Khartoum during the clashes on Saturday, and explosions were heard early on Sunday.
“A first assessment of the regrettable events of Saturday […] reports 27 people killed”, including two at the airport in the capital Khartoum, the Doctors’ Union said in a statement.
The union also counted around 170 injured.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – thousands of ex-Darfur war militiamen turned army auxiliaries – said they control the presidential residence, Khartoum airport and other key infrastructure.
The army denies taking the airport but claims that the FSR “burned civilian planes there, including one from Saudi Airlines”, which the company confirmed.
In a statement released late Saturday, the Sudanese army asked the population to stay at home as it continued its airstrikes against paramilitary bases.
Throughout the day, calls for a ceasefire have multiplied: from the UN, Washington, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Riyadh, the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union and even the former Prime civilian minister Abdallah Hamdok. But nothing in vain.
The Arab League has announced an emergency meeting on Sudan, at the request of Cairo – where it sits – and Riyadh, two great allies of the Sudanese army, struggling with the paramilitaries who now want to dislodge it from power.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on the two belligerents: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and paramilitary boss Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as “Hemedti”, but also Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to call for “an immediate end to the violence”.
The paramilitaries say they are inflexible. They “will not stop until they have taken control of all the military bases”, threatened on al-Jazeera channel their commander Hemedti, head of the RSF.
General Burhane has not appeared since the morning, but claims in a press release that he was “surprised at nine o’clock in the morning” by an attack on his HQ by the FSR, his former best ally whom the army now describes as “foreign-backed militia” to carry out his “treason”.
The army posted a “wanted notice” against Hemedti on its Facebook page. “This fugitive criminal is wanted by the judiciary,” reads the photo montage, as another statement announces the disbanding of the FSR, calling on all of these men to surrender.
On both sides, no more hushed negotiations under the aegis of diplomats and other civilized discussions, the army mobilized its planes to strike — and “destroy”, she says — RSF bases in Khartoum. As for calls to return to the negotiating table, the army replied that it was “impossible before the dissolution of the FSR”.
The latter call on the 45 million Sudanese and even the military to “join them” and turn against the army.
The inhabitants, themselves, remain cloistered at home. Bakry, 24, told AFP he had “never seen anything like it” in Khartoum.
“People were terrified, they were running home. The streets emptied out very quickly,” said the marketing employee who gave only his first name.
The two sides are still battling it out for control of the state media headquarters, witnesses say.
During the putsch in October 2021, Hemedti and Burhane joined forces to oust civilians from power. But over time, Hemedti has consistently denounced the coup.
Even recently, he sided with civilians — therefore against the army in political negotiations — blocking discussions and therefore any solution to the crisis in Sudan.
For the experts, the two commanders have not ceased in recent days to raise the stakes as civilians and the international community try to make them sign a political agreement supposed to relaunch the democratic transition.