The Sudanese paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has taken over the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum, it said in a statement and a live phone call on Al Jazeera television channel. Other strategic places in the city would also have been taken. According to the RSF, it is more about the airport at Khartoum and also a military base in the northern city of Merowe.
But the message is contradicted by the Sudanese general and president Burhan in a recorded telephone conversation with Al Jazeera. According to him, the army has control over the presidential palace, a military headquarters and the airport.
Dead at the airport
There has been heavy fighting in the capital since this morning. Eyewitnesses report that shots and explosions are heard in several places.
A Sudanese organization of doctors reports that three people were killed in the fighting. Two civilians were reportedly killed at Khartoum airport and a man was shot dead just west of the capital. Dozens have also been injured, some in critical condition.
Images from Khartoum show the violence:
RSF accuses the regular army of attacking their bases this morning. Conversely, the army says RSF fighters tried to capture the military headquarters. Images show smoke rising from a part of the city where the army has a camp.
“Rapid Support Forces fighters attacked several army camps in Khartoum and other places in Sudan,” AFP news agency quoted an army spokesman as saying. “The battle is on and the army is carrying out its duty to protect the country.”
Several countries that have an embassy in Sudan express their concern about the situation and call on the parties to stop fighting. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague advises Dutch people to stay at home in the country. “The Dutch embassy in Sudan is closely following the situation,” the ministry writes Twitter.
Great Britain also advises its citizens not to go outside. The US ambassador to Khartoum says he and embassy staff are sheltering from the fighting.
coup in 2021
Tensions between the military and the Rapid Support Forces have increased in recent months. Reports came this week that the RSF had mobilized its troops in Khartoum. Images also emerged showing vehicles being transported from RSF to Khartoum.
In a televised speech on Thursday, a senior general warned of possible clashes with paramilitary forces. He accused them of deploying troops to Khartoum and other parts of Sudan without the army’s permission.
The RSF is commanded by General and Vice President Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti. Analysts believe the militia numbers some 100,000 fighters with bases across the country. In 2021, the RSF participated in a military coup. It was then agreed that Dagalo would become a deputy of a governing council headed by General and President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Tensions have recently arisen over the question of how the RSF can be integrated into the army, and over the timeframe within which this should happen. Discussions on this were halted at the beginning of this month after disagreements over the integration.
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