Violent clashes erupt in Sudan as US ambassador takes refuge amid reports of civilian deaths

15 April 2023, 17:00 | Updated: 15 April 2023, 19:02

Violent clashes erupt in Sudan as US ambassador and embassy staff take refuge
Violent clashes erupt in Sudan as US ambassador and embassy staff take refuge. Picture: Getty

By Danielle DeWolfe

Fierce clashes between the Sudanese military and rival Rapid Support Forces have erupted in Sudan, with militia claiming to have seized the presidential palace and an airport in the north of the country.

Saturday saw heavy fighting in number of areas, including the capital Khartoum and Bahri neighbourhood, with British nationals advised to stay indoors.

Reports suggest at least three civilians have been killed in the clashes, with the country's doctors trade union claiming the deaths came during a sustained period of fighting

Unrest grew in the African nation amid widespread troubles in recent days, with the RSF claiming to have taken control of the presidential palace - the residence of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhanan.

SUDAN-UNREST. Picture: Getty

The militia also claim to have seized control of an airport and airbase in the northern city of Marawi, some 215 miles north-west of Khartoum.

The clashes come after escalating tensions between the military and the RSF in recent months, forcing a delay in the signing of an internationally backed deal with political parties to revive the country's democratic transition.

John Godfrey, US ambassador to Sudan, tweeted: 'I just arrived late last night in Khartoum and woke up to the deeply disturbing sounds of gunfire and fighting. 

'I am currently sheltering in place with the Embassy team, as Sudanese throughout Khartoum and elsewhere are doing.'

In a series of statements, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia accused the army of attacking its forces at one of its bases in south Khartoum and claimed to have seized the city's airport and be in control of Khartoum's Republican Palace, the seat of the country's presidency.

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Those claims have not yet been independently verified.

The Sudanese army said the fighting broke out after RSF troops tried to attack its forces in the southern part of the capital and accused the group of trying to take control of strategic locations in Khartoum, including the palace.

The military declared the RSF a "rebel force" and branded the paramilitary's statements "lies".

The British embassy in Sudan said 'we advise all British nationals in Sudan to remain indoors'.

'We are closely monitoring the situation in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan where there are ongoing military clashes.'


One official, who spoke anonymously, said fighter jets took off from a military base north of Omdurman and attacked the RSF's positions in and around Khartoum.

Saudi Arabia's national airline said one of its Airbus A330s was involved in "an accident" after video showed it on fire on the tarmac at Khartoum International Airport amid the fighting.

Saudia said in a statement on Saturday that all its flights were suspended after the incident. It did not elaborate on the cause of the "accident", though it appeared the aircraft got caught in the crossfire of the RSF and Sudanese soldiers fighting around the airfield.

Another plane also appeared to have caught fire in the attack. Flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 identified it as a SkyUp Airlines 737.