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Clashes erupt in Sudan over Eid holiday despite declaration of ceasefire | News

Residents told Al Jazeera that intense fighting continued in the Sudanese capital even after the Sudanese army declared a truce, dealing a blow to international efforts to end nearly a week of fighting between the military and rival paramilitary groups.

The military said Friday night that it had agreed to a three-day truce to allow people to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Its rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said earlier in the day that it had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire, also to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

“The armed forces expect the rebels to comply with all requirements of the ceasefire agreement and to cease any military actions that impede the ceasefire agreement,” an army statement said.

The military announcement followed another day of hostilities in Khartoum, with the military deploying on foot in the capital for the first time since fighting began on Saturday.

Soldiers and armed men from the RSF shot at each other in neighborhoods across the city, including during calls for special early morning Eid prayers.

‘Residents have little hope for a truce’

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reported from Khartoum that residents around the capital reported continued shelling.

“Residents say there have been heavy fighting and direct confrontations between the army and the Rapid Support Forces south of the capital,” she said.

Despite the fifth attempt at a ceasefire, residents across the country say clashes continue and they don’t think the ceasefire will last, Morgan said.

The gunfire continued to crackle and crackle throughout the day, punctuated by the roar of artillery and air strikes. Drone footage showed smoke billowing from Khartoum and its Nile sister cities of Omdurman and Bahri – one of Africa’s largest urban areas.

The fighting has killed hundreds, mainly in Khartoum and western Sudan, and has plunged the continent’s third-largest country – where about a quarter of its people already depend on food aid – into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Countries including the United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Spain have been unable to evacuate embassy staff as airports are engulfed in fighting and the skies are insecure.

In Washington, DC, the U.S. State Department said a U.S. citizen in Sudan was killed, without elaborating. The White House said no decision had been made to evacuate U.S. diplomats, but it was preparing for the possibility if necessary.

At least five aid workers were killed, including three from the World Food Programme, which has suspended its operations in Sudan – one of the world’s largest food aid missions.

A staff member of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was killed in the city of El Obaid on Friday after his vehicle was hit by crossfire while trying to evacuate his family to safety.

Paul Dillon of the International Organization for Migration said the staff were killed as fighting intensified between Sudanese warring sides in Obeid.

“Our staff member, his wife and their newborn child got into a private car and drove south to a safer location,” Dillon told Al Jazeera from Geneva.

“About 50 kilometers outside El-Obeid, they found themselves in the middle of a firefight between two factions,” he said.

“Our staff member was seriously injured, but he managed to drive the distance to a clinic. Sadly, he passed away from his injuries,” Dillon added.

humanitarian issues

The fighting has made it harder for people to leave their homes to join the crowds leaving Khartoum.

Mohamed Saber Turaby, 27, a resident of Khartoum, wanted to visit his parents, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the city, during Eid.

“Every time I tried to leave the house, there was a conflict,” he told Reuters. “There was shelling last night and now there are troops on the ground.”

A video released by the military on Friday showed troops brandishing semi-automatic weapons being cheered on a street.

Reuters verified where the video was shot, in the north of the city, but could not verify when it was taken.

At least 413 people were killed, thousands were injured, hospitals were attacked and as many as 20,000 fled to neighboring Chad, the World Health Organization said.

“Increasing numbers of people are running out of food, water and electricity, including in Khartoum,” the UN humanitarian office said.

Sudan borders seven countries and sits between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Africa’s volatile Sahel region. The hostilities risk exacerbating tensions in the region.

Divided over an internationally-backed plan to form a new civilian government, four years after former leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests and two years after a military coup, sparked violence.

Both sides have accused the other of obstructing the transition.

The two sides are also at war in the western region of Darfur, where a partial peace deal was signed in 2020 in a long-running conflict that led to war crimes charges against al-Bashir.

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