The Latest on Sudan’s Violent Clashes Between Military and Paramilitary Forces

Sudan was plunged into chaos on Saturday as fierce clashes erupted between the country's military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the powerful paramilitary group that emerged from the Janjaweed militias that fought in the early 2000s conflict in Darfur. The fighting spread across the capital, Khartoum, and other cities as the two sides traded accusations over who started hostilities, with the RSF claiming it had taken control of the presidential palace, the army chief's residence, and Khartoum International Airport in an apparent coup attempt.[0] The military fought back, with witnesses reporting that fighters from both sides fired from armoured vehicles and machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks in densely populated areas.[1] Tanks were also seen in Khartoum, while the military launched strikes from fighter jets and drones at paramilitary positions in and around the capital. [1]

The tensions between the military and the RSF had been escalating for weeks over a disagreement about how the RSF should be integrated into the armed forces and what authority should oversee the process, a key condition of Sudan's unsigned transition agreement with political groups.[2] The RSF, headed by Dagalo, has been accused of carrying out massacres in Darfur and of widespread human rights abuses. 

The outbreak of violence was met with concern from the international community, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top diplomats calling for an immediate end to hostilities.[3] The United Nations, African and Arab regional blocs, and the European Union also urged all actors to stop the violence and continue talks to resolve outstanding issues. Chad closed its border with Sudan and called for calm amid the apparent coup attempt. [4]

The fighting risks derailing Sudan's already delayed transition to civilian rule, with troop movements and army warnings indicating heightened tensions that risk escalating into violence.[5] The current situation was described by Sudan conflict zone analyst Mohammed Alamin Ahmed as a “power struggle that began a long time ago and it has escalated to direct clashes today.” [6]

As of Sunday, there were conflicting reports about the situation in Sudan, with the military declaring the RSF a rebel force and denying the group's claims that it controlled strategic locations in Khartoum and the northern city of Merowe.[3] The RSF's alleged coup attempt highlights the ongoing power struggle in Sudan and the challenges that the country faces in achieving a peaceful transition to democracy.

0. “Saudia Airbus A330-300 & SkyUp Boeing 737-800 Damaged In Sudan Conflict” Simple Flying, 16 Apr. 2023,

1. “Dozens killed in Sudan as army, rival forces fight for power” Al Jazeera English, 15 Apr. 2023,

2. “Sudan unrest: How did we get here?” Middle East Eye, 15 Apr. 2023,

3. “Choas in Sudan amid an attempted coup as government fighter jets fire missiles over capital” Daily Mail, 15 Apr. 2023,

4. “World calls for quick ceasefire in Sudan” The Jerusalem Post, 15 Apr. 2023,

5. “UN chief and officials condemn fighting between Sudanese forces” UN News, 15 Apr. 2023,

6. “Heavy gunfire, blasts heard in Sudan’s capital Khartoum” Al Jazeera English, 15 Apr. 2023,

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