US embassy convoy comes under fire in Sudan as Blinken calls for ceasefire

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Washington’s top diplomat has said a US embassy convoy came under fire in Sudan and denounced “indiscriminate military operations” as the country’s armed forces and a powerful rival unleashed heavy weapons in urban areas for a fourth day.

The convoy of clearly marked embassy vehicles was attacked on Monday, and preliminary reports linked the attackers to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary group battling Sudan’s military, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

Everyone in the convoy is was safe, Mr Blinken said.

The Sudanese military said the attack took place in Sudan’s restive Darfur region.

Japan G7 Foreign Ministers
Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the violence (Zhang Xiaoyu/Pool Photo via AP)

More than 185 people have been killed and more than 1,800 wounded, according to UN figures.

The death toll could be much higher because there are many bodies in the streets in Khartoum, especially around the city centre, that no one can reach because of the clashes.

The two sides have been using tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons in densely populated areas.

Late on Monday, fighter jets swooped overhead and anti-aircraft fire lit up the skies as darkness fell.

Fighting resumed early on Tuesday around each side’s main bases and at strategic government buildings — all of which are in residential areas.

The turmoil comes just days before Sudanese were to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC showed the extent of the destruction from days of fighting.

Planes have been destroyed at Khartoum International Airport (Maxar Technologies via AP)

Some had been completely destroyed, with one still belching smoke.

At the El Obeid and Merowe air bases, north and south of Khartoum, several fighter jets were among the destroyed aircraft.

Top diplomats have urged the two rival generals — armed forces chief General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and RSF leader General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo — to halt fighting.

The Sudanese military said on Tuesday that more troops would join the battle and that it would “widen the scope of its operations” against the RSF.

The State Department said that Mr Blinken spoke by phone separately with the two generals.

“I made very clear (in my calls) that any attacks or threats or dangers posed to our diplomats were totally unacceptable,” Mr Blinken told reporters at the Group of Seven wealthy nations meeting in Japan on Tuesday,

He appealed for an immediate 24-hour ceasefire as a foundation for a longer truce and a return to negotiations.

People walk past closed shops in Khartoum (Marwan Ali/AP)

Mr Burhan and Mr Dagalo, former allies who jointly orchestrated an October 2021 coup, have dug in, demanding the other’s surrender.

The violence has raised the spectre of civil war just as Sudanese were trying to revive the drive for a democratic, civilian government after decades of military rule.

The Sudanese military blamed the RSF, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias in Sudan’s Darfur region, for the attack on the US convoy and an earlier assault on the home of the EU envoy in Khartoum.

The military said the convoy was attacked in al-Fasher, the capital city of North Darfur province.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell tweeted on Monday that the EU ambassador to Sudan “was assaulted in his own residency”, without providing further details.

The RSF denied involvement in the attack on the ambassador’s home, instead blaming the military. However, a Western diplomat in Cairo said the residence was ransacked by armed men in RSF uniforms.

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