On April 15, clashes broke out in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, after days of tension between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The RSF said it had taken control of the presidential palace, the residence of the army chief and Khartoum International Airport. However, this was denied by the Sudanese military. The army said that RSF fighters have been trying to seize the military headquarters.
“Fighters from the RSF attacked several army camps in Khartoum and elsewhere around Sudan,” the AFP news agency quotes army spokesman Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah as saying. “Clashes are ongoing and the army is carrying out its duty to safeguard the country.”
The air force intervened in support of the military. Fighter jets and attack helicopters were spotted over Khartoum and nearby areas. The army said in a statement that the air force had “destroyed” the Tibah and Soba camps of the “externally-backed” RSF.
Several explosions were reported at Khartoum International Airport, as well as at the building of the state television in the capital.
The clashes quickly spread to the northern city of Merowe. Video footage that surfaced online showed smoke rising from a military camp there.
The RSF is under the command of the council’s vice-president General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Meanwhile, the military is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is the head of the so-called Sovereign Council that has been running the country since a coup in October 2021.
The clashes broke out after days of tension between the military and the RSF, which raised concerns about a civil war in Sudan.
The RSF is supposed to be integrated into the army as a part of a plan to establish a civilian-led government in Sudan. The paramilitary force wanted to delay it for ten years, but the army said it should happen in two years.
Commenting on the escalation, United States secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said that the situation in Sudan was “fragile” but insisted there was still an opportunity to complete the transition to a civilian-led government.
Blinken, who is currently paying a visit to Hanoi, said the situation was “fragile” as some actors “may be pushing against that progress”.
Meanwhile, Russia’s embassy in Sudan said that it was concerned by an “escalation of violence” in the country and called for a ceasefire and negotiations. The embassy added that the atmosphere in the capital Khartoum was tense but Russian diplomats were safe.
The 2021 coup ended a period of more than two years when military and civilian leaders were sharing power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir. The failure to move to a civilian-led government and a bad economic crisis increased tensions in Sudan in the last few months. The country may be heading towards a civil war.