CAIRO (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Sudan’s rival generals to abide by the latest cease-fire or face possible sanctions as residents reported sporadic fighting Tuesday between the warring sides in the capital of Khartoum and a northern city.
Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between the country’s military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The fighting has killed hundreds, wounded thousands and turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields. Early on, foreign governments raced to evacuate their diplomats and nationals as thousands of foreign residents scrambled to get out of Sudan. More than 1 million Sudanese have been forced from their homes by the fighting.
Over the past weeks, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been mediating in talks between the warring sides, held in the kingdom. A new truce was announced over the weekend — the seventh attempt so far to stop the deadly violence in the East African nation. It went into effect on Monday night. All previous cease-fires have been violated.
In a video message posted by the U.S. Embassy on social media early Tuesday, Blinken said the fighting has been “tragic, senseless and devastating.”
The truce, he said, is meant to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance and restore essential services and infrastructure destroyed in the clashes.
A remote mechanism, backed by the U.S., has been established to monitor the truce, Blinken added — a 12-member monitoring committee consisting of three representatives from the warring sides, three from the U.S., and three from Saudi Arabia.
“If the cease-fire is violated, we’ll know and we will hold violators accountable through sanctions and other means,” he said. “We facilitated the cease-fire, but it’s the responsibility of the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces to implement it.”
Both sides agreed to stop hostilities and the looting of civilian properties and humanitarian supplies, as well as seizing civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, power planets, water pumps, and fuel stations.
Aid workers and civilians have reported widespread looting in Khartoum and elsewhere across the country, along with dire lack of basic services, medical care, food, and water. A doctor’s group has also said that the RSF has seized hospitals. Allegations of sexual violence against women, including rape and gang rape in Khartoum and the restive western Darfur region, have also been reported.
Residents, meanwhile, said they heard laud sounds of gunfire and explosions Tuesday in parts of Omdurman, a city next to Khartoum, with military aircraft flying overhead. They also reported sporadic clashes around the military’s headquarters in Khartoum.
“Sounds of firefight are very close,” said Babakr Abdel-Rahman, an Omdurman resident, speaking over the phone, with loud sounds of gunfire and aircraft heard in the background. “They don’t respect people’s lives.”
Fighting was also reported in the northern city of Obeid, where RSF was said to have attacked the military headquarters and other parts of the city.