Sudan: US-Saudi brokered ceasefire begins with reports of continued fighting

Deal to stop violence comes as journalists’ syndicate accuses paramilitary group of targeting reporters

A weeklong ceasefire in Sudan intended to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid got off to a shaky start on Monday evening as witnesses in the capital, Khartoum, reported fighter jets over the city and continued fighting in some areas.

The US and Saudi Arabia announced the deal to stop six weeks of fighting, saying it would come into force at 9.45pm (7.45pm BST). World powers had put pressure on the army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces to sign a deal. Previous attempts have fallen apart.

Heavy bombardments could be heard in east Khartoum, witnesses said, and one resident shared a picture of thick black smoke rising into the sky. In Omdurman and Bahri, twin cities adjoining Khartoum, shooting could reportedly still be heard.

In the hours before the ceasefire went into effect, the army conducted heavy airstrikes across the capital, Khartoum, against its paramilitary rivals.

Although fighting has continued through previous ceasefires, this was the first to be formally agreed after negotiations.

Fighting has pitted the Sudanese army, led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the RSF, led by Burhan’s former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. More than a million people have been displaced, and millions more trapped with limited access to water, electricity and medicine.

The ceasefire deal includes for the first time a monitoring mechanism involving the army and the RSF as well as representatives from Saudi Arabia and the US, which brokered the agreement after talks in Jeddah.

Shortly before the ceasefire was due to take effect, the RSF released an audio message from Dagalo in which he thanked Saudi Arabia and the US but urged his men on to victory.

“We will not retreat until we end this coup,” he said.

Aid agencies have struggled to operate amid the violence, with facilities attacked during the conflict. The Sudanese Journalists’ Syndicate has accused the RSF of robbing and attacking reporters. Ahmed Fadol, a reporter, and Rashid Jibril, a freelance videographer, at Al Jazeera were beaten along with their relatives who were in an apartment when RSF soldiers raided it last week, the syndicate said.

“The journalists’ syndicate rejects targeting and terrorising the journalists and holds the parties of the armed conflict full responsibility of their safety while they are working in extremely complex conditions,” the syndicate said in a statement.

In West Darfur state, Inaam Elnour, a journalist, was injured and three of her brothers were killed when a shell targeted her house in el-Geinana last week, with 2,000 other people killed during clashes between the armed forces since 15 April.

In South Darfur state’s capital city, Neyala, two journalists were assaulted; Khalid Sharaf was injured on his arm and leg by a missile that targeted his house on Sunday; and Eissa Dafaallah was arrested and beaten by the RSF while he was covering the looting and burning of a market. Dafaallah was later released after being accused of working for the army intelligence.

Other local journalists, some working with regional media outlets, complained that their names were put on a list accusing them of supporting the RSF.


Zeinab Mohammed Salih in Khartoum and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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