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Sudan’s Power Struggle Claims 56 Lives and Plunges Country into Chaos


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At least 56 civilians and dozens of combatants were killed in Sudan on Sunday as a power struggle between two military rivals that erupted into clashes continued for a second day, plunging the country into chaos.

On Sunday, the Sudanese army launched air strikes against a base of rival paramilitary forces near the capital in a bid to retake control of the country.

The battles that broke out on Saturday between army units loyal to Major General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Deputy Commander Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, are the first of their kind since they joined forces. To overthrow President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019.

At the end of a day of heavy fighting, the army bombed a base belonging to the government’s Rapid Support Forces in the city of Omdurman, adjacent to the capital, Khartoum, eyewitnesses said late on Saturday.

Both the army and the RSF claimed control of Sudan’s airport and other key facilities in Khartoum, where fighting raged overnight.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, residents reported hearing gunfire and explosions from heavy artillery overnight. Al-Arabiya channel broadcast footage showing thick plumes of smoke rising over some neighborhoods of Khartoum.

Huda, a young woman from southern Khartoum, told Reuters.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there and everyone lies. We don’t know when and how this will end.”

Taghreed Abdeen, an architect who lives in Khartoum, said the electricity was out and people were trying to conserve phone batteries. “We could hear the air strikes, shelling and gunfire,” she said.

Doctors’ unions said it was difficult for doctors and patients to get to and from hospitals and called on the army and the Rapid Support Forces to provide safe passage.

Videos on social media showed military planes flying low over the city, with at least one appearing to fire a missile.

The army and the Rapid Support Forces, which experts say number 100,000, are jockeying for power as political factions negotiate the formation of a transitional government after a military coup in 2021.

The fighting followed rising tensions over the RSF’s integration into the army. The dispute over the timetable for this delayed the signing of an internationally backed agreement with political parties on the transition to democracy.

The clashes coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, when residents fast from dawn until sunset. The prolonged standoff could plunge Sudan into full-scale conflict as it grapples with economic collapse and tribal violence, hampering efforts to move toward elections.

The victory is near

“The hour of victory is near,” the army said in a statement on Sunday.

“We pray for mercy for the innocent souls who fell victim to this reckless adventure that the rebel Rapid Support militia was subjected to… We will have good news for our patient and proud people soon, God willing,” the statement said.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors reported that at least 56 civilians have been killed and 595 wounded, including combatants, since the outbreak of fighting. It added that about half of the civilian deaths were killed in provinces outside Khartoum.

The Doctors Committee said that dozens of military personnel were also killed, without giving a specific number due to the lack of direct information from the hospitals where these victims were taken.

The Rapid Support Forces claimed on Saturday morning that they had captured the presidential palace, army headquarters, state television station and airports in Khartoum, the northern city of Meroe, El Fasher and West Darfur state. The military rejected these assurances.

Late Saturday, Sudan’s air force told people to stay home while it conducted what it called an aerial survey of RSF activity, and the government ordered businesses, schools, banks and government offices to close on Sunday.

International powers – the United States, China, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union – called for an immediate end to hostilities.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Saturday that he had consulted with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and that they agreed that it was imperative for the parties involved in Sudan to end hostilities immediately without any preconditions.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported that after a phone call, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United States and the UAE called for a return to the framework agreement on the transition to democracy.

The armed forces said they would not negotiate with the RSF unless the force was dissolved. The military told soldiers seconded to the RSF to report to nearby army units, which could drain the RSF ranks if they complied.

Hemedti, the leader of the RSF, described Burhan as a “criminal” and a “liar”.

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