Live Updates: Sudan Engulfed by Chaos as Fighting Enters Second Day
At least dozens of people have died as rival military factions clash for control over the capital, further delaying hopes for a transition to civilian rule.
As rival military factions battled for control of the Capital, dozens were reported dead. The clashes have further dashed any hopes for a civilian transition.
The latest news on fighting in the capital of Sudan.
On Sunday, fighting raged in the capital of Sudan's for the second day. Months of increasing tensions between the factions of the military suddenly spiraled out of control into a full-scale battle that threatened the last hopes of a civilian transition.
On Saturday, clashes at a Khartoum military base quickly spread to the Presidential Palace, the International Airport, and the HQ of the State Broadcaster. Residents hid in their homes while explosions rang and warplanes screeched above rooftops. More than 500 civilians have been injured and at least 56 people killed, mainly in Khartoum.
On Sunday morning it was still unclear who controlled Sudan, an expansive and strategically significant country located just south of Egypt. Reports of fighting were heard throughout Sunday's night and early morning, including near Khartoum's Armed Forces Headquarters.
This chaos is alarming for a country that was once a model in Africa and the Arab World. The jubilant protesters were symbolized by a woman wearing a white robe. They toppled the President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who had ruled for three decades.
In a coup, Sudan's two powerful generals - who now fight each other - united 18 months ago to bring down the revolution. Pro-democracy demonstrators refused to give up, and continued to die in protests.
Other developments are:
The U.N. Security Council released a rare declaration, condemning violence and urging the two sides to resume talks. The 15-member U.N. Security Council has been unable to reach agreement on many issues since Russia invaded Ukraine in full last year. China and Russia, both permanent members, have vetoed most statements.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All three agreed the fighting between the two sides had to stop immediately and that negotiations were the only way to move forward.
The clashes that have taken place in Sudan, a muslim-majority country, occurred during the holiest of days of Ramadan. Ramadan ends this week.
Sudan has experienced more coups in its history than any other African nation, but none involved such intense combat between the two armed forces at the heart of the capital.
Farnaz Fassihi, Edward Wong and Farnaz Fassihi contributed to the reporting.
April 16, 2023 at 12:40 am ETApril 16, 20,23 at 12:40 am ET April 16, 2023, 12:40 a.m. ETApril 16, 2023, 12:40 a.m.
Reporting from Nairobi in Kenya
Residents in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, reported loud explosions that shook their houses early Sunday morning. Both sides claimed to be winning the war, but it wasn't clear which side was in control.
April 15, 2023 at 5:28 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 5:28 pm ET April 15, 2023, 5:28 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 5:28 p.m.
A resident of Khartoum who requested to be identified as Huda due to security concerns lives between two major flashpoints in the conflict. Her family hid inside their house for most of Saturday. She said that they couldn't even look outside the house because you never know what's going to happen.
April 15, 2023 at 4:34 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 4:34 pm ET April 15, 2023, 4:34 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 4:34 p.m.
Reporting from Nairobi in Kenya
It was unclear on Saturday night who controlled Sudan. A U.N. internal report based upon hospital statistics stated that at least 27 people were killed and 400 injured. U.N. officials also reported that three Sudanese World Food Programme employees were also killed in Darfur.
Fighting between rival military leaders in Sudan erupted during a crucial time for the country's muslim majority: the final 10 days of Ramadan.
During Ramadan Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk, and instead read the Quran or help the poor. The last 10 days of Ramadan are the most holy in the Islamic calendar, because they mark the anniversary when Prophet Muhammad received the Quran. It is because of this that Muslims increase their efforts by giving charity and studying religious texts, as well as staying in the mosques longer as part of itikaf, a practice.
Many African leaders were shocked by the timing of armed clashes that took place in Khartoum and other cities on Saturday. They called for the rivals of the conflict to lay down their weapons so the citizens could enjoy the holy month of Ramadan.
Moussa Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission called on both groups 'to immediately stop the destruction and terrorization of the country's people', as well as the bloodshed during the final 10 days of Ramadan.
Abiy Ahmed said in a statement that the clashes were against ancient Sudanese values and norms because they occurred during the last days before Ramadan.
William Ruto, Kenya's President, said that all differences must be resolved through dialogue, 'for the sake and security of the people in Sudan, and stability throughout the country and region, particularly during this holy Ramadan month'.
In Sudan, Ramadan can be a joyful celebration. Families and friends gather to enjoy foods such as samosas and dates. They also share sweet tea, and assida (a semolina-based dish). For many Sudanese this Ramadan is a difficult time, as the country faces food insecurity due to poor harvests, high food prices, and an economic crisis spiraling out of control. According to Islamic Relief, a non-governmental organization, more than 15 million Sudanese are suffering from food shortages, and high inflation.
Witnesses said that as the time to break the fast approached, the gunfights in some parts of the capital ceased. After being stuck at home all day, residents rushed to the shops to purchase bread, watermelons and dates to satisfy their hunger and thirst.
April 15, 2023 at 3:30 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 3:30 pm ET April 15, 2023, 3:30 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 3:30 p.m.
Reporting from Nairobi in Kenya
Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan who leads the paramilitaries fighting the Sudanese Army, claimed on Twitter Saturday night that his forces had taken control of the majority of Sudan's army installations and the airport at El Geneina in the capital state of West Darfur. The Times was unable to independently verify these claims.
April 15, 2023 at 3:13 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 3:13 pm ET April 15, 2023, 3:13 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 3:13 p.m.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors has issued an urgent appeal for doctors and surgeons in North Darfur to visit the El Fashir Hospital and East Nile Hospital near Khartoum. They said they faced a number of serious cases.
April 15, 2023 at 2:57 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 2:57 pm ET April 15, 2023, 2:57 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 2:57 p.m.
Reporting from Nairobi in Kenya
Sudan's Armed Forces said Saturday night, as fighting continued, that until the Rapid Support Forces are disbanded there will be no negotiations with them.
April 15, 2023 at 2:08 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 2:08 pm ET April 15, 2023, 2:08 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 2:08 p.m.
According to Emergency, an organization that manages several healthcare facilities in Sudan, the fighting forced a children's center to close Saturday on the outskirts. The group's cardiology hospital in the city only operated on emergencies.
April 15, 2023 at 1:32 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 1:32 pm ET April 15, 2023, 1:32 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 1:32 p.m.
Reporting from Nairobi in Kenya
Mohamed Hamdan, a former camel trader and leader of a feared Darfur militia accused of atrocities, has steadily accumulated influence and wealth in Sudan in the last two decades. He is now on the cusp of the highest level of power.
Even though his former patron, autocratic leader President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was overthrown by pro-democracy demonstrators in 2019, General Hamdan used it to his benefit -- abandoning Mr. al-Bashir quickly and, in the last year, reinventing him as a newly-born democrat who has aspirations to be the next president of Sudan.
He also allied with Russia's Wagner private military company whose mercenaries protect gold mines in Sudan, and has provided military equipment to his troops.
General Hamdan was faced with his most difficult challenge to date on Saturday as battles raged in the capital between the Sudanese Army under Gen. Abdel-Fattah al Burhan and his paramilitary force.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, General Hamdan declared that General al-Burhan was a criminal. General al-Burhan had been his boss until Saturday and now is his mortal enemy.
General Hamdan went on to say, "This man is an liar." This man is a criminal. He destroyed Sudan.'
A spokesman for the army responded by calling General Hamdan "rebel". The heated language made it clear to many Sudanese, that despite General Hamdan's earlier talk of democracy, the commander, who has a history of brutal action, was fighting for his own future.
It was also a stark reminder of the depressing truth: even though protesters ousted Mr. al Bashir, who is widely despised for his brutal regime of rule, the military leaders that thrived under it are still battling to dominate the nation.
General Hamdan began his career as a leader with the Janjaweed militias, which committed the most horrific atrocities against the people of Darfur's western region. The 2003 conflict resulted in the displacement of millions and death of up to 300,000.
He was rewarded for his ability to crush rebel groups in the local area by Mr. al Bashir who, in 2013, appointed him as the leader of the newly created Rapid Support Forces.
General Hamdan, who had been a supporter of Mr. al-Bashir before the protests in Khartoum, helped to remove him from power after Mr. al-Bashir was ousted by protesters.
Two months later in June 2019 when protesters who demanded an immediate transition from military to civilian rule refused leave a demonstration site, General Hamdan’s Rapid Support Forces launched a brutal attack.
According to protesters and other witnesses, his troops raped and murdered dozens of women, and burned tents. They also dumped some bodies in the Nile. Sudanese doctors claim that at least 118 people died.
General Hamdan denies any involvement in the violence, and he is furious with those who refer to his fighters by the name janjaweed despite their key role in Hamdan's rise to power. He told The New York Times that a janjaweed is a bandit on the road who robs people. It's propaganda from the other side.
The Rapid Support Forces have evolved since then into much more than just a bunch of gun-toting rabble. Some estimates put the number of fighters at 70,000. The force was deployed in Yemen to fight against insurgencies and quash insurgencies in Sudan as part the Saudi-led coalition.
The war also made Hamdan rich. He had interests in gold-mining, construction, and even a limousine rental company.
He is also a surprising agile politician. He travels across the Horn of Africa and the Middle East region to meet leaders and develops close ties with Moscow.
April 15, 2023 at 12:35 pm ETApril 15, 20,23 at 12:35 pm ET April 15, 2023, 12:35 p.m. ETApril 15, 2023, 12:35 p.m.
"We are afraid": Sudanese seek shelter from the fighting between rival armed forces.
Sudanese people were already in a state of crisis before the rival army factions began fighting. They faced rising inflation, increasing unemployment and mounting hunger.
On Saturday morning, the people woke to the sound of heavy gunfire, explosions, and clashes between the army and a paramilitary group in the capital Khartoum and other cities. These clashes followed 17 months of military control, civil protests and endless political debates over how to transition the nation from military rule to democracy.
Bassam Mohamed, a 23-year-old engineering student from Khartoum's southern Jabra district, said that the generals were fighting for resources and influence. Mr. Mohamed has been involved in many protests against military forces. He and his brother were worried all day and hid at home. Gunshots were heard in the background during an interview.
Mr. Mohamed stated that he was afraid. The situation in Sudan will worsen in all possible ways, especially if clashes turn into civil war.
Others Sudanese claimed that they had anticipated the unfortunate turn in events. In recent weeks tensions have been building between Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Lt. General Mohamed Hamdan. They are both leaders of powerful paramilitary forces.
Galal Yousif is a Sudanese Artist in Khartoum. "Unfortunately, there is a force of militia on one side and a general on the other who wants to turn the national army into militia in order to stay in power."
He said that the latest clashes undermined the efforts of the Sudanese who took to the streets during the popular uprising in 2019 to fight for democratic reforms. He said: 'It's like nothing happened.'
Violence caught others off-guard. Nisrin, an American citizen and Sudanese national, arrived in the country just two weeks earlier with her three-year-old daughter for academic research. This was the first time her daughter had visited the country. On Saturday morning, they were woken by the sound of gunfire.
Ms. Elamin said, 'We looked out of the window, and there was a cloud of smoke above Khartoum', when she called Saturday evening, having just broken her Ramadan Fast. We were hearing missile-like noises. The whole building was shaken.
Ms. Elamin's plans have been thrown into disarray. She said that her family had been without power since Saturday morning and relied on the backup generator in their building to charge their phones.
Some couldn't believe that it was happening, despite the rumblings in recent days. Huda, a woman who requested that her name not be published for security reasons, said that she'd heard about a possible conflict but what happened Saturday was much bigger than she ever imagined.
She claimed that her family was 'imprisoned,' as their home is located in Khartoum’s Arkaweet district, between two major flashpoints - to the north, the embattled Airport, and to south, the Soba Camp where most of the fighting started.
Huda said that at times it sounded like the gunfire or explosions were coming right next door. The bullets were scattered throughout the area.