Sudan clashes kill 56 and injure almost 600

Arab League to hold urgent meeting as street fighting shutters capital

Smoke is seen rising in Khartoum on Saturday. AP
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Sudan’s central doctors committee has said at least 56 civilians have been killed and almost 600 people injured after clashes between the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on Saturday.

Twenty-five people have been killed in the capital Khartoum, the committee said on Sunday morning, including 17 civilians and eight military personnel.

Seven civilians were killed in Bahri, a city north of the capital, while 11 were reported dead in Omdurman.

At least 595 people have been wounded in the heavy street fighting.

Khartoum's international airport has been closed and regional airlines have cancelled flights to Sudan amid the unrest.

The committee called for an "immediate" end to the fighting which has plunged large parts of the capital into chaos, saying many dead and wounded are unable to be evacuated.

Paramilitaries said they were in control of the presidential place, Khartoum's airport and other vital facilities on Sunday, claims denied by the army as fighting rages on the capital's largely deserted streets.

Khartoum residents "have never seen anything like this," a local resident told AFP.

"People were terrified and running back home. The streets emptied very quickly", said Bakry, who gave only a first name.

The clashes follow rising tensions over the RSF's integration into the military.

The disagreement has delayed the signing of an internationally backed agreement with political parties on a transition to democracy.

Saturday's fighting appeared to be the result of a takeover attempt by the RSF.

A coalition of civilian groups that signed a draft of the agreement in December called for an immediate halt to hostilities, to stop Sudan sliding towards "the precipice of total collapse."

Heavy fighting was reported near the army's headquarters in Khartoum on Sunday, while airstrikes hit RSF bases in Omdurman and Port Sudan.

The US has said it is "alarmed" by the outbreak of fighting, joining calls from the UN, EU, China and African Union for an immediate ceasefire.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he has spoken with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

All parties "agreed it was essential for the parties to immediately end hostilities without pre-condition," he said in a Sunday statement.

Sheikh Abdullah "indicated the importance of joint cooperation in order to contain the current situation, stop the escalation, ensure the protection of civilians, and push towards peaceful paths" according to a statement carried by Wam news agency.

He also discussed the situation with EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell.

The Arab Leage is scheduled to hold an urgent meeting on Sudan on Sunday following requests from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Wire agencies contributed to this report

Updated: April 18, 2023, 8:48 AM