Sudan ceasefire extended but fighting continues

Rival factions of Sudan’s military agreed to renew a three-day ceasefire, shortly before it was due to expire.

The extension – for another 72 hours – follows intensive diplomatic efforts by neighbouring countries, as well as the US, UK and United Nations (UN).

But there are continuing reports of heavy fighting in the capital, Khartoum. The previous truce allowed thousands of people to attempt to flee to safety, while dozens of countries have tried to evacuate their citizens.

Almost two weeks of fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary group have left hundreds dead.The ceasefire had been expected to end at midnight local time (22:00 GMT on Thursday).

Early on Thursday evening, the Sudanese regular army agreed to an extension, and its rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), followed suit hours later.

South Sudan has offered to host peace talks, and the army has agreed to send representatives to the talks.

Despite the bitter past and years of conflict that led to South Sudan’s separating from Sudan in 2011, the two nations now enjoy cordial relations.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said Washington was “very actively working” to extend the truce, adding that while imperfect, it had reduced violence.

But White House spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, later said the situation could worsen at any moment.

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of neighbouring Ethiopia where the Africa Union is headquartered, said that he had called up both of the rival generals to urge them to settle their differences amicably.

Meanwhile, the RSF and eyewitnesses said the army had been pounding its positions in Khartoum.

The foreign minister in the former civilian government, Maryam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, told the BBC from her home in Khartoum that despite the ceasefire, civilians were still living in fear.

“What they call a truce has nothing to do with what is happening,” she told BBC Radio Four’s World Tonight programme. -BBC

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