Sudan's military conflict sparks global concerns

File picture: A protester waves a flag during what the information ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2021. This time around, the military conflict has left dozens dead. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

File picture: A protester waves a flag during what the information ministry calls a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, October 25, 2021. This time around, the military conflict has left dozens dead. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Published Apr 16, 2023


KHARTOUM - The deadly conflict between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital Khartoum has killed at least 56 people and wounded more than 590, raising international concerns about further escalation.

Commander of the Sudanese Army Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on Saturday issued a decision dissolving the RSF.

"The army commander also decided to end the assignment of army officers in the rebel Rapid Support Forces," the Sudanese General Intelligence Service (GIS) said in a statement on Saturday.

Al-Burhan is also the chairman of the ruling sovereignty council of the African country

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Sudanese Army announced the security situation in Khartoum was stable despite reports of continued clashes.

Rising casualties

The deadly fighting between the army and the RSF raged into the early hours of Sunday.

The Sudanese Doctors' Committee said early Sunday that at least 56 people had been killed and more than 595 wounded, noting that more casualties were still uncounted.

The independent Sudan Tribune website quoted Mustafa Suleiman, a paramedic working at El Fasher Teaching Hospital, as saying that "three bodies arrived at the hospital."

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of South Darfur State government Bashir Mursal Hasaballah said in a statement that six people were killed, and 16 others wounded during clashes between the army and the RSF in the state's capital city of Nyala.

The Preliminary Committee of the Medical Association said in a field report on Saturday that "two people were killed at Khartoum Airport and one in El-Obeid, North Kordofan state."

Video clips and photos on social media showed that hospitals in Khartoum were crowded with injured members of the Sudanese Army and the RSF.

The Sudanese Doctors' Committee urgently appealed to the medical staff to go to hospitals as there were a great number of critical cases.

Sudan's Civil Aviation Authority on Saturday announced suspension of flights at Khartoum International Airport after clashes erupted inside the airport, damaging two planes, one of which belongs to Saudi Airlines and the other the United Nations.

Festering tension

The Sudanese capital on Saturday woke up to the sounds of heavy gunfire, which were soon confirmed as an outbreak of clashes between the Sudanese Army and the RSF.

The two sides have been slapping accusations against each other for initiating the conflict.

In a telephone interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel, Al-Burhan said the RSF "attacked our headquarters," adding he was taken by surprise when the RSF attacked his house at 9:00 a.m. (0700 GMT).

For his part, the RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo told the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel that "the Army is the one who attacked us".

The RSF also announced that it has taken control of the presidential palace, a strategic guesthouse inside the army's headquarters, and the Khartoum International Airport, in addition to a number of strategic sites.

However, in an official statement, the Sudanese Army General Command denied that the RSF seized control of any of the above sites.

Video clips posted on social media showed that the Sudanese Army targeted the headquarters of the RSF through warplanes, while Dagalo denied that the headquarters of his forces were destroyed by the Sudanese Army.

The military conflict is a culmination of the festering tension between the two military forces.

Deep differences have emerged between the Sudanese Army and the RSF, especially over the latter's integration into the army as stipulated in a framework agreement signed between the military and civilian leaders on Dec. 5, 2022.

The tension has escalated since Wednesday in the Merowe region in northern Sudan, after the RSF moved military vehicles to a location near the military air base there, a move that the army considered illegal.

Widespread concerns

The raging conflict in Sudan has triggered widespread concerns.

On Saturday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes called for immediate cessation of fighting in the country.

"Perthes has reached out to both parties asking them for an immediate cessation of fighting to ensure the safety of the Sudanese people and to spare the country from further violence," UNITAMS said in a statement.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc, on Saturday called on Sudanese warring parties to resolve differences through dialogue.

"These reports of fighting will not only cause setbacks but will also cause serious instability and insecurity to Sudan and the region at large," said a statement from the IGAD.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also expressed on Saturday its great concern over the ongoing clashes in neighboring Sudan, calling on all Sudanese parties to exercise utmost restraint.