Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced a 72-hour cease-fire beginning at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Friday, but residents of Khartoum and its sister city Bahri reported shooting as Sudanese forces moved on foot in the cities.
After six days of combat, the RSF proclaimed a truce early Friday to coincide with the opening of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr and to allow locals to rejoin with their family.
“The truce coincides with the blessed Eid al-Fitr … to open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens and give them the opportunity to greet their families,” the RSF said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from the army and its chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who did not mention a ceasefire in a pre-recorded speech posted on the army’s Facebook page.
Khartoum, the capital, was rocked by bombing and shelling before the ceasefire announcement and witnesses heard gunfire as the ceasefire, and morning Eid prayers, were due to begin.
Residents said soldiers were deploying on foot into some neighborhoods, apparently indicating that the army was preparing for more clashes.
In Bahri, on the other side of the River Nile, residents said the army had deployed large numbers of soldiers and that they could hear fighting as the RSF and army engaged in gun battles.
Fighting between the RSF and Sudan’s army erupted on Saturday, derailing an internationally backed plan for a transition to a civilian democracy four years after the fall of Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir to mass protests and two years after a military coup.
The RSF said it had to act in “self-defense” to repel what it described as a coup attempt, though adding that it was committed to a “complete ceasefire” during the armistice period.
At least 350 people have been killed in the power struggle between two previously allied leaders of the ruling military junta, army chief Burhan and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is widely known as Hemedti.
The conflict has dashed hopes for progress towards democracy in Sudan, risks drawing in its neighbors and could play into regional competition between Russia and the United States.