Street fighting spreads under Khartoum's smoke-filled skies

Street fighting spreads under Khartoum's smoke-filled skies
Despite mounting pressure, neither Burhan nor Hemedti have been willing or able to hold a truce between the Sudanese army and RSF.
6 min read
21 April, 2023

After days of failed ceasefires that have given way to further fighting, Sudan has woken up to Eid al-Fitr celebrations marred by devastating violence in Khartoum and beyond. 

The capital has seen some of the fiercest fighting, with air strikes and tanks firing in densely packed districts. Most of Khartoum's five million residents are sheltering at home in baking heat, without electricity, food, or water.

Communications are heavily disrupted, and detailed reporting from inside the capital is hard to come by. 

The crackle of intense gunfire continued Friday morning, with columns of black smoke rising across the capital.

This liveblog has now ended. Please follow The New Arab on Twitter for the latest developments - and join live coverage of events in Sudan with us again tomorrow.  

4:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

U.S. military prepare for evacuations

The U.S. military is preparing as many options as possible ahead of a possible evacuation from the U.S. embassy in Sudan but no decisions have been made, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday.

"We've deployed some forces into theater to ensure that we provide as many options as possible if we are called on to do something. And we haven't been called on to do anything yet," Austin told a news conference at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. "No decision on anything has been made."

Reporting by Reuters

4:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

Havoc in Medani

Eyewitnesses are reporting an influx of RSF fighters into Medani - the very city Khartoum residents had fled to, escaping the scenes in the capital. 

Having been pushed back by the Sudanese Army, militiamen are reportedly causing havoc along the main road of Medani - further endangering civilian life.

3:10 PM
The New Arab Staff

Aid workers killed

The number of humanitarian workers caught in the crossfire is rising as the fighting spreads. 

The United Nations migration agency said that a staff member had been killed in fighting in southern Sudan on Friday when his vehicle was caught in crossfire.

The humanitarian worker with the International Organization for Migration is the fourth UN member of staff killed since fighting erupted in Sudan on Saturday.

Three employees of the World Food Programme (WFP) were killed in the North Darfur region of eastern Sudan.

Sudan relies on international organisations to provide basic services across much of the country - including healthcare and food distribution. 

1:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Mercenaries and forced recruitments

Details are emerging over the involvement of mercenaries - including the notorious Wagner group - in the current fighting. 

Sudanese experts are warning that South Sudanese citizens are also at risk of forced recruitment to bolster troop numbers in the spreading fight. 

12:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Eid celebrations surrounded by violence 

Despite the ongoing conflict, Khartoum residents are still attending Eid al-Fitr prayers across the capital. 

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed correspondent Abdelhameed Awad has the full story here:

Live Story
Prayers take place outside in the Sudanese capital today [Getty images]
12:45 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Evacuations begin

Several governments are making preparations to evacuate their citizens from Sudan as the situation continues to deteriorate. 

Spanish military aircraft are on standby and ready to evacuate some 60 Spanish nationals and about 20 civilians from other countries from Sudan's capital Khartoum amid armed conflict there, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Friday.

Germany is pushing for both sides to agree a ceasefire for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr so people can be evacuated, said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Berlin today. 

A reliable ceasefire, however, still appears to be a long way off. 

12:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sudanese army speaks of 'cleansing' 

The army has began the process of "cleansing" the streets of Sudan of "rebellious rebel groups," showing no signs of reconciliation. 

"We have broken their challenge and seen off the challenge, and we are moving to gradually cleanse the capital of pockets of armed rebellion," said the statement published today. 



A protester supporting the army joins a demonstration in Port Sudan [Getty images]
12:12 PM

Residents flee the city

More and more civilians in Khartoum are risking gunfire on the streets and trying to find any way to leave the city. 

Some are sharing advice in real time on Twitter for others to use bus services to reach more peaceful regions of Sudan. 

12:04 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Death toll rises to 413

413 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since fighting began this week, according to figures just released by the World Health Organisation.

A further 3551 have been injured, and are now at the mercy of Sudan's broken healthcare system.  

10:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

'Overwhelmed': harrowing hospital account of Sudan conflict

Children hit by bullets and patients treated in corridors: one of the first accounts from medics since fighting erupted in Sudan provides a harrowing report of the conflict's "catastrophic" impact.

The testimony, provided by Cyrus Paye, who works for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the war-ravaged western Darfur region, paints a terrifying picture of the violence that erupted across the country at the weekend.

"The majority of the wounded are civilians who were hit by stray bullets, and many of them are children," Paye said, MSF project coordinator in South Hospital in El Fasher, state capital of North Darfur.

"They have fractures caused by bullets, or they have gunshot wounds or shrapnel in their legs, their abdomen or their chest. Many need blood transfusions."

Over 400 people have been killed and 3,500 wounded countrywide, the World Health Organization said Friday, but MSF said that in just the one hospital they work in 279 wounded have been treated. Of those, 44 have died.

10:46 AM
The New Arab Staff

Burhan swears to emerge stronger 

Sudanese general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has sworn that Sudan will emerge "stronger and more united than ever'" from its current "misfortune" today.

Burhan made the comments during his pre-recorded Eid address that was broadcast on Friday morning. 

"The sound of bullets and destruction have left no place for the celebration that our people deserve this holy day," said the general. 

Yesterday the general said he sees 'no room for talks' with militia leaders such as Hemedti, the leader of the Rapid Support Forces. 


9:51 AM
The New Arab Staff

Fleeing to the borders:

Both civilians and fighters have been trying to make it to safety outside of Sudan, fleeing to Chad and other neighbouring countries despite danger on the streets of Khartoum and beyond. Read the full story here: 

Live Story
9:49 AM
The New Arab Staff

The background

Here is a recap of the context to Sudan's latest outbreak of violence, written by Ali Abbas Ahmadi: 

Live Story
9:46 AM
The New Arab Staff

Both sides implicated

Khartoum residents are continuing to report horrific acts of violence committed by members of both the RSF and Sudan's army under the command of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.