Smoke rises in Khartoum, Sudan as paramilitary group battles army
Smoke rose in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday as a paramilitary group said it had seized the presidential palace. (Reuters)
Military generals on both sides of the fighting in Sudan agreed to a temporary truce Friday, which coincides with the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of Ramadan.
Explosions and gunfire rocked the capital city of Khartoum earlier that morning — and the preceding days — before Sudanese Armed Forces Commander Gen. Abdel Fattah al Burhan claimed the sides had agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire.
His rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Commander Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, announced a “humanitarian truce for a period of 72 hours” for Eid al-Fitr to allow for evacuations.
“Based on international, regional, and local understandings, we agreed to a humanitarian truce for a period of 72 hours, starting from six o’clock this morning,” said the Rapid Support Forces. “We note that the truce coincides with the blessed Eid Al-Fitr and to open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens and give them the opportunity to greet their families.”
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This image taken on Friday, April 21, 2023, shows the Sudan Armed Forces, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces. (Sudan Armed Forces via AP)
Previously proposed pauses over the past week have failed to last.
The Sudanese Armed Forces’ top general also declared on Friday that the military would commit to a civilian-led government, seemingly pointing to an end of hostilities between the two military groups.
In his first speech since the conflict engulfed Sudan nearly a week ago, Burhan pledged a “safe transition to civilian rule.”
“We are confident that we will overcome this ordeal with our training, wisdom and strength,” Burhan said Friday, promising to create “security and unity of the state.”
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He added: “Ruin and destruction and the sound of bullets have left no place for the happiness everyone in our beloved country deserves.”
Residential buildings damaged in fighting are seen in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
The Rapid Support Forces also sent their “warmest congratulations and blessings to the masses” on Friday as it celebrated the holiday. The group also said it longed for “more security, stability and development” for Sudan.
“The Rapid Support Command would like to send a special message to the honorable members of the Armed Forces, officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers. It is time to align with the choice of the people who aspire to democratic transformation, and we have followed hundreds of you leaving the battlefield and returning safely to their homes. We commend this step and welcome the others who still bear arms,” the paramilitary group said.
It continued: “We affirm our commitment, during the period of the declared armistice, to a complete cease-fire, and we warn against the continuous transgressions of the other party in not adhering to the declared armistice.”
The remarks come amid pleas and coordination from international groups, including the United States, to end brutal fighting between his forces and the powerful opposing paramilitary group.
An explosion destroyed military vehicles in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
Destroyed military vehicles are seen in southern Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged respite from the persistent violence.
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Blinken met with African, Arab, and regional and international partners and organizations for a “special ministerial session under the leadership of African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told Fox News.
The leaders unanimously agreed on the “urgent need for an Eid al-Fitr ceasefire in Sudan to alleviate the suffering of the Sudanese people and to pave the way for a more permanent ceasefire.”
Blinken also spoke directly with General Burhan and, separately, with General Dagalo.
United States Secretary of State Antony John Blinken delivers a speech in the Europa building, the EU Council headquarter on April 4, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
The Secretary of State “condemned the indiscriminate fighting that has caused significant civilian deaths and injuries and damage to essential infrastructure,” Patel said. “He urged both military leaders to implement and uphold a nationwide ceasefire and sustain it through at least the end of Eid al-Fitr, Sunday, April 23.”
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He also “expressed grave U.S. concern about the risk to civilians, humanitarian and diplomatic personnel, including U.S. personnel. He underscored that the people of Sudan and the regional and international community are speaking with one voice about the need to end the violence and demanded that the two military leaders heed that voice.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.