The sounds of gunfire and heavy artillery reverberate across Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, for a second day as doctors say at least 56 civilians have been killed in fighting between the army and a powerful paramilitary force.
Sunday’s fierce fighting came as the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates called for the opposing sides to “immediately end hostilities without precondition”.
Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that the sounds of heavy artillery firing across Khartoum, the adjoining city of Omdurman and nearby Bahri continued early on Sunday while an Al Jazeera television feed showed clouds of smoke billowing over the capital.
The Sudanese Doctors Union said at least 56 civilians had been killed and 595 people, including combatants, have been wounded since the fighting between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted on Saturday.
The two sides have been competing for power as political factions negotiate forming a transitional government after a 2021 military coup. The tensions stem from a disagreement between the military, headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, about how the paramilitary force should be integrated into the armed forces and what authority should oversee that process.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said the situation in the capital remained tense with civilians caught in the middle of the fighting.
“It doesn’t look like the situation is de-escalating,” she said late on Saturday. “In fact, the army has put out a statement saying that it will not negotiate with the Rapid Support Forces until those forces are dismantled and the rebel troops are dealt with.”
“We are continuing to see fighting in Khartoum near the vicinity of the presidential palace,” she said.
“We can hear shots being fired. We can hear heavy artillery being fired. It’s not clear who is in control of the palace, and there are battles over the state television. The army says it is in control of its headquarters and also the Khartoum International Airport.”
Global powers – the US, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Nations, European Union and African Union – all appealed for an immediate end to the hostilities.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that he had spoken with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and said the three countries “agreed it was essential” that the fighting in Sudan end.
“I urge General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Degalo to take active measures to reduce tensions and ensure the safety of all civilians,” he said. “The only way forward is to return to negotiations that support the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations.”
China also expressed concern, with the foreign ministry in Beijing urging all sides in Sudan to cease fire to prevent the situation from escalating.