The US ambassador and embassy staff to Sudan were forced to seek shelter when the country’s army and a powerful paramilitary group fired shots in the capital Khartoum.
The British Embassy has also advised all British nationals there to stay indoors after ongoing fighting broke out between the military and the Rapid Support Forces militia on Saturday.
The RSF said it has taken control of the presidential palace, the residence of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Khartoum International Airport, where fighting is ongoing and the country is cut off.
There were also reports of clashes in other cities in an apparent attempted coup by militia, who claim the army attacked them first.
John Godfrey, US Ambassador to Sudan, tweeted: “Arriving in Khartoum late last night and awoke to the deeply disturbing sounds of gunfire and fighting.
“I am currently protecting with the embassy team on the ground, as are the Sudanese doing across Khartoum and elsewhere.”
Smoke billows over Khartoum on Saturday amid clashes between the military and Rapid Support Forces militia
US Ambassador John Godfrey tweeted that he and his staff are taking shelter at the embassy in Khartoum
Army soldiers are stationed in Khartoum amid reported clashes in the city. Sudanese paramilitaries said they were in control of several key locations
The British Embassy in Sudan said: “We advise all British nationals in Sudan to stay indoors”.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan where there are ongoing military conflicts.”
The Russian embassy in the country also expressed concern about the “escalation of violence” and called for a ceasefire.
The sounds of heavy gunfire were heard in several areas of the capital, including central Khartoum and the Bahri neighborhood.
Elsewhere, eyewitnesses reported clashes between military and paramilitary forces in the North Darfur state capital, El Fasher.
The RSF also claimed it had seized an airport and air force base in the northern city of Marawi, some 215 miles northwest of Khartoum.
In a statement, the RSF militia accused the army of attacking its forces at one of its bases in southern Khartoum.
In a separate statement on Saturday, the Sudanese army said fighting broke out after RSF troops got tired of attacking their forces in the southern part of the capital.
On Saturday, sustained gunfire erupted amid simmering tensions between the military and the Rapid Support Forces militia. Pictured: Smoke billows over buildings in Khartoum
Sudanese paramilitaries said on April 15 that the regular army had entered their camps in southern Khartoum and besieged paramilitary forces there
In a later statement, the military declared the RSF a “rebel force” and described the paramilitary’s statements as “lies”.
The Sudanese Air Force is conducting operations against RSF, the army said, as videos emerged of military planes flying over the capital.
In its statement, the RSF said it had been contacted by three former rebel leaders who hold government posts in a bid to de-escalate the conflict.
Television footage from the country shows smoke billowing from buildings in the capital and elsewhere, including at a military camp in Merowe, 200 miles north of Khartoum.
People walk past a military vehicle in Khartoum amid clashes in the city
The clashes come as hostility between the military and the RSF has escalated in recent months, forcing a delay in signing an internationally-backed deal with political parties to revitalize the country’s democratic transition.
The tensions stem from a disagreement over how the RSF should be integrated into the military and which agency should oversee the process.
The merger is a key condition of the unsigned interim agreement with Sudan.
However, the army-RSF rivalry dates back to the rule of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019.
Under the former president, the paramilitary RSF force, led by powerful General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (pictured), grew out of former militias
Speaking on state news earlier this week, army spokesman Brig. Nabil Abdullah read a statement warning of conflict following the deployment of paramilitary forces in the capital and other cities
Under the former president, the paramilitary force led by the powerful General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo grew out of former militia groups known as the Janjaweed, which carried out a brutal crackdown during decades of conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
In a rare televised address on Thursday, a senior army general warned of possible clashes with the RSF and accused them of deploying forces in Khartoum and other areas of Sudan without the army’s consent.
The Sudanese civil factions, who signed an initial power-sharing agreement with the two groups, have now urged them to cease hostilities.
Dagalo, the powerful head of the RSF militia, greets his supporters at a rally in 2019
The civil parties also called on international and regional actors to urgently help stop the bloodshed.
Commercial aircraft attempting to land at Khartoum International Airport turned around to return to their original airport.
Flights from Saudi Arabia turned back after nearly landing at Khartoum International Airport, flight tracking data showed on Saturday.
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