As many as 60 people have been killed since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15. Since the fighting started, the two forces have released differing accounts of who fired the first shot.
The RSF claims that the Army carried out a series of surprise attacks against their troops and bases in locations across the country. The Army maintains that fighting began after the RSF allegedly took control of the Presidential Palace, the seat of the junta’s chairman and army chief, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan.
Since then, there has been heavy gunfire in several cities, including near the Presidential Palace and the airport in Khartoum city. The violence has spilled over into residential areas, as the two are vying for control of strategic areas and facilities such as airports and bases. Civilians have been advised to stay inside, but civilian casualties have already been registered.
The violence between the two groups was sparked over disagreements regarding the timeline for the integration of the autonomous RSF into the army’s command chain. The issue of integration was a key aspect of a deal that Sudan’s ruling junta was to sign with right-wing civilian forces to share power with the latter.
Pro-democracy groups opposed the deal, fearing it would lead to the army retaining control with civilian faces, the same situation as before the October 2021 coup.
Speaking to Peoples Dispatch a few hours before the fighting broke out, the Sudanese Communist Party’s Foreign Relations Secretary, Saleh Mahmoud, said “Both the forces, the army, and the RSF, have a mutual interest in escalating armed conflict so that it can be used as a reason to not hand over power to the civilian forces.”