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Indians in Sudan asked to stay indoors as fighting breaks out between army and paramilitary forces

Smoke rises above buildings in Khartoum on April 15, 2023, amid reported clashes in the city.

All Indians in Sudan have been asked to stay indoors by the embassy in Khartoum as open hostilities have broken out between the African country’s paramilitaries and the regular army with gunshots and explosions shattering the calm in the African nation’s capital.

“In view of reported firings and clashes, all Indians are advised to take utmost precautions, stay indoors and stop venturing outside with immediate effect. Please also stay calm and wait for updates,” stated a tweet from the Indian Embassy in Khartoum read.

Violence flared up in Sudan on Saturday after weeks of deepening tensions between military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his number two, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, over the planned integration of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the regular army, according to an AFP report.

The RSF said its forces had taken control of Khartoum airport after witnesses reported seeing truckloads of fighters entering the airport compound.

Gunfire was heard near the airport, as well as near Burhan’s residence and in Khartoum North. Civilians were seen running for cover as artillery exchanges rocked the streets, AFP reported.

The two sides blamed each other for starting the fighting.

“The Rapid Support Forces were surprised Saturday with a large force from the army entering camps in Soba in Khartoum and laying siege to paramilitaries there,” it said in a statement.

It said a “sweeping attack with all kinds of heavy and light weapons” was underway.

The RSF said its fighters had also taken control of the airport in Merowe, north of Khartoum.

The army, on the other hand, blamed the paramilitaries for the heavy fighting.

“Fighters from the Rapid Support Forces attacked several army camps in Khartoum and elsewhere around Sudan,” army spokesman Brigadier General Nabil Abdallah told AFP.

Troops blocked off the bridges across the Nile linking Khartoum with its sister cities of Omdurman and Khartoum North. They also sealed off the road to the presidential palace.

There has been tension between the military leader Burhan and his number two, the RSF commander, over talks to finalise a deal to return the country to civilian rule and end the crisis sparked by their 2021 coup.

A plan to integrate the RSF into the regular army is one of the key points of contention, analysts have said.