Sudan’s rival commanders agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire beginning Tuesday evening, according to the army, following calls from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to each side over fierce fighting in Khartoum that saw shots fired at a US diplomatic convoy.
According to Army General Shams El Din Kabbashi, a member of Sudan’s ruling military council, the ceasefire will begin at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) and will not last longer than 24 hours.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate calls with the army chief and the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, whose power struggle has killed at least 185 people across the country and derailed an internationally-backed plan to shift to civilian rule after decades of autocracy and military control.
RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, whose whereabouts have not been disclosed since fighting began, said the RSF approved the 24-hour ceasefire to ensure the safe passage of civilians and the evacuation of the wounded.
In a post on Twitter, Hemedti said he had “discussed pressing issues” with Blinken during their call and more talks were planned. The RSF also issued a statement saying it was waging a continuing battle to restore “the rights of our people” in what it called a new revolution.
Blinken said initial reports suggested the attack on the U.S. envoy was undertaken by forces associated with the RSF, calling the action “reckless”. He said all U.S. personnel were safe after the incident, calling threats to U.S. diplomats “totally unacceptable.”
Underscoring the risk a prolonged conflict presents to regional stability, Kabbashi said two neighbouring countries were attempting to provide aid to the RSF. He did not identify the countries.
Early on Tuesday, gunfire echoed across Sudan’s capital accompanied by the sound of warplanes and explosions, a Reuters reporter said. Residents in Khartoum’s neighbouring cities of Omdurman and Bahri also reported air strikes that shook buildings and anti-aircraft fire.
The fighting has raged in several regions of the country since Saturday. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was nearly impossible to provide humanitarian services around the capital. It warned the country’s health system was at risk of collapse.