Clashes in Port Sudan for first time since war began: witnesses

Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

PORT SUDAN, Sudan: The Sudanese army clashed with tribal militiamen in Port Sudan late on Monday, witnesses said, the first fighting in the strategic coastal city in more than five months of war.

Thousands have been killed in fighting that has raged between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), since April 15.

A witness in Port Sudan said there had been “an exchange of gunfire between the army and a militia led by Sheba Darar”, a leader from the local Beja tribe, in the centre of the Red Sea city.

One witness who spoke on condition of anonymity said “soldiers deployed in the area after removing checkpoints set up by the militia”, while others reported a “return to calm” soon after. Port Sudan is home to the country´s only functioning airport and hosts government officials as well as the United Nations.

They had relocated from the war-torn capital Khartoum, where battles between the army and the RSF continued Monday, according to witnesses who reported heavy artillery and air strikes rocking the city.

For the past three weeks, it has served as the new base for Burhan, who had until late August been holed up in army headquarters in Khartoum, besieged by RSF fighters. Burhan has since made six trips abroad from Port Sudan in what analysts say is a diplomatic push to burnish his credentials in the event of negotiations to end the conflict.