Clashes continue in Sudan as death toll nears 100
The fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces continues for the third day in a row.
Explosions rocked the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday as clashes between the regular army and paramilitaries continued for a third day with the death toll rising to nearly 100.
The violence erupted on Saturday after weeks of power struggles between Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The fighting triggered a wide international outcry with appeals for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue.
"The death toll among civilians in clashes since it began on Saturday ... has reached 97," the doctors' union said in a statement early Monday, noting that the figure does not include all casualties as many could not reach hospitals due to difficulties in movement.
The union said hundreds of civilians were wounded in the clashes.
Loud gunfire and deafening explosions sounded across the streets of Al-Khartoum on Monday morning as clashes continued, according to AFP journalists.
The fighting broke out after bitter disagreements between Al-Burhan and Dagalo over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army -- a key condition for a final deal aimed at ending a crisis since the 2021 military coup they orchestrated together.
The clashes forced the Sudanese to hide in their homes with fears of a prolonged conflict that could plunge the country into deeper chaos, smashing hopes for a return to civilian rule.
Since Saturday, the two sides have traded blame over who started the fighting. Each has claimed the upper hand by declaring control of key sites, including the airport and the presidential palace.
Fighting also stretched into others parts of Sudan including the western Darfur region and the eastern border state of Kassala.
The Saturday killing of three staff from the World Food Programme (WFP) in North Darfur clashes prompted the agency to suspend all operations in the country.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the killings and called for accountability, saying, "Those responsible should be brought to justice without delay."
"Humanitarian workers are #NotATarget," he tweeted.
Volker Perthes, UN special envoy for Sudan and head of its country mission, expressed in a statement that he was appalled by reports of shelling and looting impacting the UN and other humanitarian facilities.
Medics have pleaded for safe corridors for ambulances and a ceasefire to treat the victims because the streets are too dangerous for transporting casualties to hospital.
The RSF was created under now-jailed former President Omar Al-Bashir in 2013, emerging from the Janjaweed militia that his government unleashed against non-Arab ethnic minorities in Darfur a decade earlier, drawing accusations of war crimes.
On Sunday, the Sudanese army and the RSF agreed to open temporary safe humanitarian corridors.
"The Sudanese Armed Forces agreed to a United Nations proposal to open safe corridors for humanitarian cases, for a period of three hours, starting at four o’clock in the afternoon," the army said in a statement.
The statement added that these corridors will not hinder the army from "responding to any transgressions committed by the rebel militia."
The latest violence sparked by the two generals has reflected the deep-seated divisions between the regular army and the RSF. Despite the wide calls for a ceasefire, Al-Burhan and Dagalo appeared in no mood for talks.
Al-Burhan, who rose through the ranks under the three-decade rule of Al-Bashir, has said the coup was "necessary" to include more factions in politics.
Dagalo later called the coup a "mistake" that failed to bring about change and reinvigorated remnants of Al-Bashir's regime ousted by the army in 2019 following mass protests. He also called Al-Burhan a "criminal" and a "liar".
US, UK urge 'immediate cessation of violence' in Sudan
In the same context, Britain and the United States called for an "immediate cessation" of violence in Sudan.
"There is a shared deep concern about the fighting... the threat that poses to civilians, that it poses to the Sudanese nation and potentially poses even to the region," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement alongside his British counterpart James Cleverly.
Blinken said the fighting had been discussed with allies in the Middle East and Africa and there is "a very strongly shared view about the need for generals... to ensure the protection of civilians and non combatants as well as people from third countries."
There was an agreement "on the need for an immediate ceasefire and a return to talks," the top US official added on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers' meeting in the Japanese town of Karuizawa.
On his part, Cleverly said that "the immediate future lies in the hands of the generals who are engaged in this fight."
"We call upon them to put peace first, to bring an end to the fighting, to get back to negotiations. That's what the people of Sudan want, that's what the people of Sudan deserve," he added.
Efforts by neighbors and regional bodies to end the violence intensified on Sunday.
Saudi state media also reported on Sunday that Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan bin Al-Saud had separate phone calls with Al-Burhan and Dagalo and called for an end to the fighting.
Egypt offered to mediate, and the regional African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development plans to send the presidents of Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti as soon as possible to reconcile Sudanese groups in conflict, Kenyan President William Ruto's office tweeted.
In an emergency meeting for the League of Arab States on the crisis on Sunday, Sudan said the Sudanese should be allowed to reach a settlement internally without foreign interference.