Fighting has worsened in several areas of Khartoum after a ceasefire deal expired, residents of Sudan’s capital reported, as activists said a fresh outburst of violence in North Darfur state had left over 40 people dead.
The ceasefire between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commenced on 22 May and expired on Saturday evening.
Brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States, the temporary truce calmed the fighting slightly and allowed some humanitarian access, but like previous ceasefires, was repeatedly violated. Talks to extend it broke down on Friday.
Sudan’s deadly power struggle, which erupted on 15 April, has sparked a major humanitarian crisis in which over 1.2 million people have been displaced within the country, with another 400,000 forced to flee into neighbouring countries.
Live footage showed black smoke billowing above the capital.
“In southern Khartoum we are living in terror of violent bombardment, the sound of anti-aircraft guns and power cuts,” resident Sara Hassan said by phone. “We are in real hell.”
Among the other areas where fighting was reported were central and southern Khartoum, and Bahri, across the Blue Nile to the north.
According to witnesses, a military plane had crashed in Omdurman, one of three cities around the confluence of the Nile that make up the greater capital region. There was no comment from the army, which has been using war planes to target the RSF fighters spread out across the capital.
Apart from Khartoum, deadly fighting has also broken out in Darfur, in the far west of Sudan, already grappling with long-running unrest and major humanitarian challenges.
Witnesses noted that heavy fighting on Friday and Saturday had brought chaos to Kutum, one of the main towns and a commercial hub in North Darfur.
Some 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded, including residents of the Kassab camp, which housed people displaced by earlier unrest, said the Darfur Bar Association, which monitors rights in the region.
The army denied claims that the RSF, which developed out of Darfur militias and has its power base in the region, had taken over Kutum.
Separately, Sudanese antiquities authorities said RSF fighters had withdrawn from the national museum in central Khartoum. On Saturday, the RSF released a video filmed inside the grounds of the museum, which houses ancient mummies and other precious artefacts, denying they had harmed the collection.
So far, fighting in the capital has led to widespread damage and looting, dwindling food supplies and a collapse in health services, power and water facilities.
In recent days the first rains of the year have fallen, heralding the start of a rainy season that runs until about October and brings flooding and a heightened risk of water-borne diseases.
The rains are likely to complicate a relief effort already hampered by bureaucratic delays and logistical challenges. Aid workers have warned that dead bodies have been left in the streets and uncollected rubbish has been piling up.
Saudi Arabia and the US disclosed that they were continuing to engage daily with delegations from the army and the RSF, which had remained in Jeddah even though talks to extend the ceasefire were suspended last week.
The two nations said in a statement: “Those discussions are focused on facilitating humanitarian assistance and reaching agreement on near-term steps the parties must take before the Jeddah talks resume.”