Air strikes and tanks or artillery fire shook Sudan’s capital of Khartoum on Friday and a heavy bombardment pounded the adjacent city of Bahri, despite the agreement between the army and a rival paramilitary force who pledged to extend a truce by 72 hours.
Sudan ceasefire still in force as evacuation continues
In persisting ceasefire violations that the United States called worrying, heavy gunfire and detonations rattled residential neighborhoods of the capital region where fighting has been concentrated over the past week. Thick smoke was also rising above two areas of Bahri.
“The situation this morning is very scary. We hear the sounds of planes and explosions. We don’t know when this hell will end. We’re in a constant state of fear for ourselves and our children,” said Bahri’s resident Mahasin al-Awad.
The Sudanese army has been directing air strikes with fighter jets or drones on RSF forces spread out in neighborhoods across the capital.
In a statement issued on Friday, the RSF accused the army of violating the truce pact by carrying out air strikes on its bases in Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city across the Nile, and Mount Awliya. The RSF claims the army’s air strikes were impeding evacuation efforts by foreign diplomatic missions.
In response, the army accused the RSF of shooting at a Turkish evacuation plane as it was landing at Wadi Seidna airport outside Khartoum, saying a crew member was wounded and the aircraft’s fuel supply damaged. The plane managed to land safely and was being repaired, the army’s statement said.
Fighting has also spread to the Darfur region, where conflict has simmered since civil war erupted two decades ago, and threatens to spread instability across a volatile swathe
of Africa between the Sahel and the Red Sea.
At least 512 people have been killed and almost 4,200 wounded by the fighting in Sudan which erupted on April 15. Food distribution has been severely limited in Africa’s third-largest country, where a third of its 46 million people were already reliant on relief aid.
The top U.N. aid official in Sudan, Abdou Dieng, said on Thursday that “very little can be done” in terms of humanitarian assistance.
Many foreigners remain stuck in Sudan despite the evacuation of thousands by numerous countries.
Saudi Arabia said two more evacuation ships had arrived in Jeddah, across the Red Sea from Sudan, carrying 252 people in all from various countries, raising to more than 3,000 the total Riyadh has rescued.
The army and RSF said earlier they had agreed to a new three-day ceasefire through Sunday to replace one that expired on Thursday night that brought a partial lull allowing diplomatic evacuations to gather pace – although many Sudanese remained trapped in their homes by fighting.
The news was welcomed by the United Nations, African Union, African trade bloc IGAD and the so-called quad countries of the U.S., Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. In a statement, they emphasized that the goal was a more durable ceasefire and untrammeled access for humanitarian operations.
But the White House said on Thursday it was deeply concerned by the myriad ceasefire violations and that the situation could worsen at any moment.