Blasts shake Sudan capital on 4th day of fighting, lawlessness

Explosions rocked the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Tuesday, the fourth day of fighting that has claimed nearly 200 lives despite growing international calls for an end to hostilities that have spawned increasing lawlessness.

A weeks-long power struggle erupted into deadly violence Saturday between the forces of two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Underscoring the chaos, the US said one of its diplomatic convoys was fired upon, and the EU said its ambassador was attacked at home.

Aid groups have reported looting of medical and other supplies.

Battles have taken place throughout the vast northeast African country and there are fears of regional spillover of the conflict that has seen air strikes, artillery and heavy gunfire.

In a statement, G7 foreign ministers meeting in Japan called for the warring parties to “end hostilities immediately”, as loud explosions were heard in Khartoum, where militiamen in turbans and fatigues roamed the streets.

Terrified residents of the capital are spending the last and holiest days of Ramadan watching from their windows as tanks roll through the streets, buildings shake and smoke from fires triggered by the fighting hangs in the air.

Others are fleeing.

According to witnesses, pickup trucks carrying anti-aircraft guns — stationed in residential areas of Khartoum — were resupplied with ammunition Tuesday morning.

“Bombardments usually start around 4:00 am and they continue for a few hours, but today they haven’t stopped,” said Khartoum resident Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem.

“We haven’t slept in the past four days,” she said, adding her family had been staying indoors “trying to keep our sanity intact”.

Families waited on Tuesday, heavy suitcases in hand, for the few buses heading south from the capital, according to AFP reporters, as more people use rare lulls in the fighting to escape Khartoum. 

But, as many have lost power and internet connections, residents are finding it increasingly difficult to get reliable information.

– Misinformation –

Misinformation has proliferated on social media, confusing civilians anxious for accurate news about attacks and reported looting, how safe it is to move and what pharmacies are still open.

The current toll is at least 185 people killed and more than 1,800 injured, according to the UN.

The true number is thought to be far higher, with many wounded unable to reach hospitals, which are themselves under shelling, according to the official doctors’ union.

Four hospitals in the greater Khartoum area have been “shelled and evacuated”, it said. Across the country, 16 others are “out of service”, it added, while those still operating face “severe shortages”, including of medical staff, water and food supplies. 

Civilians are running out of food as the few grocery stores that remain open have been unable to replenish dwindling stocks. 

The fighting has damaged aircraft and brought a halt to flights to and from Khartoum airport.

Satellite photos show other damaged planes at the airports in Merowe and El Obeid.

The Red Cross and the World Health Organization stressed Tuesday the need for humanitarian aid corridors.

“We have thousands of volunteers who are ready,” to perform humanitarian services but cannot move, said Farid Aiywar, the Sudan head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken with the two generals and “underscored the urgent need for a ceasefire”.

After his call with Blinken, Daglo said on Twitter that the RSF “reaffirms its approval” of a 24-hour “armistice to ensure the safe passage of civilians and the evacuation of the wounded”.

– Aid work suspended –

The army bluntly dismissed his statement.

“We are not aware of any coordination with the mediators and the international community about a truce, and the rebellion’s declaration of a 24-hour truce aims to cover up the crushing defeat it will receive within hours,” the army warned on Facebook.

Both have positioned themselves as saviours of Sudan and guardians of democracy — in a country which has known only brief democratic interludes.

The 2021 coup which the generals orchestrated derailed a transition to civilian rule.

The Forces of Freedom and Change, the main civilian bloc ousted from power in that coup, rejected “the total war the generals have unleashed to destroy everything in their path”.

Blinken said a US diplomatic convoy came under fire Monday in a “reckless” action which caused no injuries.

Late Monday, the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell reported that the EU ambassador “was assaulted” in his own home, despite the obligation of Sudanese authorities to protect diplomatic premises.

The Sudanese foreign ministry blamed the RSF for attacking diplomatic staff.

The battles that began Saturday followed bitter disagreements between Burhan and Daglo over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army — a key condition for a final deal aimed at resuming the democratic transition.

Both claim to be in control of key sites, including the airport and the presidential palace — none of which could be independently verified.

A number of organisations have temporarily suspended operations in the country, where one-third of the population needs aid and three UN World Food Programme staff are among the dead.

Influential northern neighbour Egypt said it had discussed with Saudi Arabia, South Sudan and Djibouti — all close allies of Sudan — “the need to make every effort to preserve stability and safety”.


Originally published as Blasts shake Sudan capital on 4th day of fighting, lawlessness

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