A strong militia and the national military engaged in fierce battle in the capital and other towns of Sudan, in what reportedly appeared to be the outbreak of full-scale civil war in the country on Saturday.
The US ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, said that he and other diplomatic personnel were taking cover and sheltering in place amid the chaos.
This was a hazardous escalation of tensions between the nation’s top two generals, who collaborated to remove longstanding ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
People in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, Omdurman, its twin city across the Nile River, and other regions reported hearing gunshots and frequent explosions.
The enormous nation, home to almost 45 million people, is situated along the Red Sea between Ethiopia and Egypt.
The military claimed to have used aircraft to attack the RSF, and social media users posted videos of jet fighters flying over Khartoum.
The Rapid Support Forces, a state-sponsored militia led by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, and the military, which is under the direction of Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, both claimed responsibility for beginning the fight in conflicting claims. Gen. Dagalo serves as Gen. Burhan’s deputy and is the leader of Sudan’s ruling junta.
In addition an airliner full of civilians appears to have come under fire at the country’s international airport.
Before departing from Khartoum’s international airport on a planned trip to Riyadh on Saturday at 7:30 a.m., Saudi Arabia’s national carrier Saudia announced that one of its planes, an Airbus A330, was “engaged in an accident.”
The airline named the flight as Saudia flight SV485, which was supposed to leave Khartoum at 9:30 a.m.
A passenger jet was seen on fire on the runway at Khartoum International Airport earlier on Saturday, according to video footage shared on Twitter by Western plane-spotters. It was unable to independently verify the video.
Flights to and from Sudan have been canceled by Saudia and a number of other airlines, including Emirates and flydubai.