Sudan’s army has declared its rival paramilitary organisation, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a rebel group and has ordered its dissolution, as fighting between the two raged for a third day, with the death toll continuing to rise.
The Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday that General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese army and the de facto head of state, had declared the RSF a rebel entity that was fighting the state and ordered its dissolution.
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This formalised an earlier declaration by the state intelligence services and the language used by the army to describe the RSF from the first day of fighting.
The foreign ministry statement added that the fighting, which began on Saturday, was the result of an RSF rebellion against the Sudanese armed forces, and that al-Burhan had been scheduled to meet RSF head Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo on the same day clashes began.
In downtown Khartoum, there were some indications on Monday that fighting had reduced in its intensity, but it appears to have instead shifted to outlying areas of the city, Al Jazeera correspondents reported from the ground.
Civilians have also become increasingly worried and frustrated as they remain hunkered down in their homes, with life put on pause, and many not daring to step out onto the streets.
The impact of three days of relentless shooting as well as air attacks by the army is starting to show on traumatised children and their worried parents as the lucky few ration the fuel they have for their generators, hoping to eke out the most electricity they can, with the municipal supply almost entirely stopped.
In the midst of all this, the Sudanese army has claimed several successes, chief among them that the army had taken over the national radio and television headquarters.
Regular programming was overlaid with red “breaking news” tickers as the army began to address the people. Not long after, the RSF shared photos it said were of its forces in front of the television building.
Hemedti took to Twitter to call on the international community to “take action now and intervene against the crimes of Sudanese General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, a radical Islamist who is bombing civilians from the air”.
Both sides have claimed that they are taking every precaution to ensure that civilians are not harmed in the fighting, which they blame on each other.
At least 97 civilians have been killed during the fighting, with the number expected to be higher, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate. The number of combatants killed is unknown.