Death toll climbs as army-militia clashes spread across Sudan

A tank on the streets of Khartoum (social media)


Fierce clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) commanded by Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, that erupted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum yesterday and have since spread to other parts of the country, have already claimed at least 56 civilian and dozens of military lives, with hundreds more reported injured.

The inter-factional violence that broke out yesterday, following longstanding tensions between the forces loyal to Sudan’s two most powerful generals, quickly escalated. Army and paramilitary troops battled over key points in and around Khartoum, including the airports, Presidential Palace, and TV broadcast centre, while terrified civilians ran for cover. As the violence continued overnight, conflicting claims and counter claims of both factions regarding which key points they control are difficult to verify.

Military vehicles in Khartoum (Photo: Social media)

Fighting talk

Fighting talk is being used by both factions. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces announced that “there can be no negotiation or dialogue” until what it described as “Hemeti’s rebel militia” is dissolved.

In a separate statement via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), member of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Lt Gen Yasir El Ata, said that the SAF were able “to control all the major RSF camps in Khartoum, and in several other cities and towns, including Port Sudan, El Gedaref, and Kosti”.

Sudan’s High Command (Photo: SAF)

‘There can be no negotiation or dialogue until Hemeti’s rebel militia is dissolved…’ – Sudan Joint Chiefs of Staff

Last night, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors reported that at least 56 civilians had died as well as “dozens of military personnel”. The doctors also say they have counted close to 600 injured at the time of their report.

Former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok called on the SAF and RSF to “stop the shooting and resort to the voice of reason,”

The clashes were initially reported in central Khartoum, however, gunfire and shelling could soon be heard across the city, and the sound of artillery shelling was reported later in Omdurman to the north-west, and Khartoum North (Bahri). The government urged the public to remain indoors. Armoured military vehicles and other deployments could be seen on the streets, as fighter jets and assault helicopters of the Sudanese Air Force patrolled the skies above the capital.

Battle for key points

The first deaths were reported after fighting around Khartoum International Airport, and widely shared images show smoke rising close to an Airbus of Saudia Airlines on the tarmac. The airline has since confirmed that one of its aircraft “came under fire”. All Saudia and EgyptAir international flights to Khartoum have been cancelled, and foreign embassies have urged their citizens to ‘shelter in place’. Chad has announced that it has closed its border with Sudan.

Yesterday, it was reported that clashes around the military camp at Merowe in Northern State, 200 kilometres north of Khartoum. Radio Dabanga earlier reported the large number of RSF paramilitaries being deployed in Merowe over the past few days.

Further afield, gunfire has been heard in Port Sudan in Red Sea state. Three employees of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reportedly died when SAF and RSF troops clashed at a military base in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. The WFP has been contacted by Radio Dabanga for confirmation.

Reports from El Obeid in North Kordofan list at least three people dead and dozens more injured. Clashes also continued in the Central Darfur capital Zalingei, as well as El Geneina, capital or West Darfur, however exact figures are still being assessed.


This eruption of violence follows growing tensions and a power struggle between Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, commander of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan’s de facto leader following the 2021 military coup, and Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, commander of the notorious paramilitary RSF.

While the intention to integrate the SAF and RSF into a unified national army has been voiced repeatedly by both sides, the most recent negotiations regarding the Framework Agreement for a transition to civilian governance stalled largely due to failure to reach consensus on security and military reform.

This is a developing story…