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Sudanese military rules out negotiations with rival paramilitary force

A statement from the military on Thursday said that engaging in talks with the paramilitary Rapid Support Force would only be possible to discuss their surrender

Sudan clashes, Sudan

Sudan clashes (Photo: Reuters)

AP Khartoum
Sudan's military has ruled out any negotiations with the rival paramilitary forces to end the crisis roiling the country and says it will only accept their surrender.
A statement from the military on Thursday said that engaging in talks with the paramilitary Rapid Support Force would only be possible to discuss their surrender.
There would be no armed forces outside the military military system," it said.
The statement came as the latest attempt at a 24-hour cease-fire between Sudan's warring forces grew increasingly strained.
The two sides have been battling since Saturday for control of the strategic African country.
Meanwhile, fighters from Sudan's rival factions battled around the main military installation in central Khartoum and other parts of the country's capital on Thursday, threatening to unravel the latest attempt at a cease-fire as foreign governments looked for ways to extract their citizens trapped in the conflict.
With some parts of the Sudanese capital relatively calmer than previous days, the exodus of residents in Khartoum from their homes appeared to accelerate.
Massive numbers of people, mostly women and children, were leaving in search of safer areas, said Atiya Abdulla Atiya, secretary of the Doctors' Syndicate.
The 24-hour cease-fire, which came into effect Wednesday evening, is the most significant attempt yet to halt violence between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
The rivals' fight for control of Sudan has turned the densely populated Khartoum, its neighbouring city of Omdurman and other parts of the country into war zones, with millions of Sudanese caught in between.
Khartoum residents have been desperate for a respite after days of being trapped in their homes, their food and water running out. But whatever tenuous quiet has been brought to some areas by the truce risks quickly falling apart.
Sounds of gunfire and air bombing are still heard, Atiya told The Associated Press said. It is escalating, and the situation is deteriorating rapidly.
At least 330 people have been killed and 3,300 wounded in the fighting since it began Saturday, the U.N.'s World Health Organization said, but the toll is likely higher because many bodies lie uncollected in the streets.
A previous truce attempt on Tuesday collapsed as soon as it began, and the two antagonists in the fight army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and RSF commander Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo have seemed determined to crush each other in their struggle for power.
Diplomatic efforts were underway to try to shore up and extend the cease-fire.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, spoke by phone Thursday and discussed efforts to stop the fighting and return to negotiations, Egypt's presidency said.
Egypt is allied to Sudan's military, while the UAE is close to the Rapid Support Forces.
The truce has not been firm enough to deliver supplies and relief to Sudan's overwhelmed hospitals, Atiya said.
Hospitals in Khartoum are running dangerously low on medical supplies, often operating without power and clean water.
Around 70% of hospitals near the clash sites throughout the country are out of service, the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate said Thursday. At least nine hospitals were bombed, it said.
We are worried that Sudan's healthcare system could completely collapse. Hospitals need additional staff, they need additional supplies, and they need additional blood supplies, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general, said in a briefing Wednesday.
The fighting has been disastrous for a country where the United Nations says around a third of the population some 16 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.
The U.N. children's agency UNICEF warned that critical care has been disrupted for 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children, who need round-the-clock treatment.
Save the Children said power outages across the country have destroyed cold chain storage facilities for lifesaving vaccines, as well as the national stock of insulin and several antibiotics.
Millions of children, the aid group said, are now at risk of disease and further health complications.
It said 12% of the country's 22 million children are suffering from malnutrition and are vulnerable to other diseases.
Through the night and into Thursday morning, gunfire could be heard almost constantly across Khartoum.
Residents reported the heaviest fighting around the main military headquarters in central Khartoum and at the nearby airport. Military warplanes struck RSF positions at the airport and in Omdurman, residents said.
The Egyptian and Sudanese militaries said that Egypt succeeded in repatriating dozens of its military personnel who had been detained by the RSF when it attacked Merowe airport, north of the capital, early in the fighting. Egypt said its personnel were there for training and joint exercises.
Foreign governments as well geared up to evacuate their citizens from Sudan. But with airports in Khartoum and other cities turned into battlegrounds, it remained uncertain how they would do so.
Japan's Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Thursday ordered military aircraft sent to the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti to stand by for an evacuation of around 60 Japanese nationals, though it was not clear when one would take place.
The Netherlands sent military transport craft to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba late Wednesday to be ready as well, though the Dutch Defense Ministry acknowledged that evacuations are not possible at the moment.
The conflict has once again derailed Sudan's attempt to establish democratic rule since a popular uprising helped oust helped depose long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir four years ago.
Burhan and Dagalo jointly carried out a coup purging civilians from a transitional government in 2021.
The explosion of violence came after weeks of growing tensions between the two generals over new international attempts to press a return to civilian government.
Both sides have a long history of human rights abuses.
The RSF was born out of the Janjaweed militias, which were accused of widespread atrocities when the government deployed them to put down a rebellion in Sudan's western Darfur region in the early 2000s.
The conflict has raised fears of a spillover from the strategically located nation to its African neighbours.
Sudan's fighting has also caused up to 20,000 Sudanese to seek refuge in eastern Chad, the U.N. said Thursday.
At least 320 Sudanese soldiers fled to Chad, where they were disarmed, said Daoud Yaya Brahim, Chad's defense minister.
The troops were apparently fleeing from Darfur, where the RSF is the most powerful armed force.
Chad is for the moment trying to remain neutral (but) Chad will be forced to pick sides if Sudan continues its descent into civil war, said Benjamin Hunger, Africa analyst for Verisk Maplecroft, a risk assessment firm.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Apr 20 2023 | 9:06 PM IST

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