Paramilitary forces fighting against the army in Sudan have agreed to a 72-hour “complete ceasefire”, as US officials confirmed that one of their citizens had died during the six-day conflict.
The Rapid Support Forces said they agreed to the ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Fitr. Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of a month-long dawn-to-sunset Ramadan fasting.
The paramilitary said that the pause in the fighting, which left over 330 dead and more than 3,300 injured, would allow the opening of humanitarian pathways to “evacuate the citizens and give them an opportunity to greet their family”.
The Sudanese army has yet to comment on the ceasefire, which began at 6am local (5am UK time).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called on both sides to commit themselves to a ceasefire of three days to coincide with Eid al-Fitr.
US prepares to evacuate citizens
A spokesperson for the US State Department confirmed that an American had died in the country.
In a press release, the department stated: “We confirm that one US citizen has died in Sudan.” We are in contact with the family, and we offer them our sincerest condolences for their loss.
We have no further comments to make out of respect for this family at this difficult time.
US and other countries are preparing to evacuate their citizens from Sudan. This is a difficult prospect, as most major airports in the country have become battlefields and moving out of Khartoum into safer areas can be dangerous.
Officials in the administration said that US military assets have been moved to a Djibouti base for possible evacuation of American Embassy staff.
Japan is planning to send military aircraft to Djibouti and the Netherlands sent their own to Jordan.
James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary, will return to New Zealand from his Pacific tour on Friday and focus on Britain’s response in the Sudan crisis.
On Thursday, the Sudanese army said it would not negotiate with the RSF and only accept their surrender.
The head of Sudan’s army Abdel Fattah al Burhan had told Sky News that he was willing to negotiate just a few days ago.
Why has violence erupted?
On Saturday, 15 April, tensions over the transition of the country from military to civil rule erupted in violence.
RSF said that it had to take “self-defence”, to stop what it called a coup in the country.
After joining forces to remove former leader Omar al Bashir from power in 2019, the paramilitary group, along with the Sudanese Army, had formed a close alliance.
There have been many disagreements over the years between the two parties about how the country should run.
Both sides claim to have control over strategic locations including the Presidential Palace, airports, and air bases.
The army and RSF engaged in fierce battles in and around Khartoum, one of Africa’s most populous cities. They also fought in Darfur – still scarred from a conflict that ended 3 years ago.
A truce follows a failed ceasefire
Fighting broke a fragile 24-hour ceasefire which began on Wednesday.
The failure of this truce, the second in a week, highlighted the United States’, UN’s, European Union’s and regional powers’ failure to force Sudan’s top generals into halting their campaigns to seize the country.
Both the RSF commander, General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo and army chief general Burhan appear to be determined to achieve a military victory.
Subscribe to Sky News Daily podcast
On Thursday, gunfire was heard throughout Khartoum.
Residents said that the most intense fighting took place around the main military headquarters located in the center of the city.
Residents reported that military warplanes attacked RSF positions in the airport as well as the nearby city of Omdurman.
Although the claim was not independently verified, the military claimed that its warplanes had also hit a convoy RSF vehicles headed to the capital.
Khartoum residents are desperate to get out of their homes after being trapped for days with no food or water.
There is growing concern that the medical system in the country may be on the brink of collapse. Many hospitals have been forced to close and others are running out of resources.