Blinken warns Sudan’s rivals after U.S. diplomatic convoy comes under fire

A U.S. diplomatic convoy came under fire in Sudan in an apparent attack by fighters linked to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday, calling the incident “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary RSF that erupted on Saturday has killed at least 185 people and injured more than 1,800, U.N. envoy Volker Perthes said.

The power struggle has derailed a shift to civilian rule and raised fears of a wider conflict.

Blinken, speaking in Japan, said the diplomatic convoy that came under fire on Monday was flying U.S. flags and all in the convoy were safe.

The shooting prompted a direct warning from Blinken, who separately telephoned RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, and Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to tell them that any danger posed to American diplomats was unacceptable.

“We have deep concerns about the overall security environment,” Blinken told a news conference at a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Japan.

Blinken urged both leaders to agree to a ceasefire and said they had a responsibility to “ensure the safety and wellbeing of civilians, diplomatic personnel, and humanitarian workers,” the State Department said.

RSF’s Hemedti said he had “discussed pressing issues” with Blinken during their call and more talks were planned.

“We will have another call to continuing dialogue and working hand-in-hand to forge a brighter future for our nations,” Hemedti, whose whereabouts have not been disclosed since the fighting began, said in a post on Twitter.

The battling factions have both claimed to have made gains amid airstrikes and fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and strife across the country.

The violence has cut power and water in Khartoum and smoke has been hanging over the city amid a clamour of airstrikes, artillery fire and shooting.

Perthes, the U.N. envoy to Sudan, said on Monday the two sides showed no signs of being willing to negotiate.

“The two sides who are fighting are not giving the impression that they want mediation for a peace between them right away,” Perthes told reporters by videolink from Khartoum.

He said the rivals had agreed a three-hour humanitarian truce but fighting continued despite the promises of calm.

The clashes in Khartoum and its adjoining sister cities of Omdurman and Bahri are the worst in decades and risks tearing Sudan between two military factions that had shared power during a rocky political transition.

Army chief Burhan heads a ruling council installed after a 2021 coup and the 2019 ousting of veteran leader Omar Bashir during mass protests. RSF leader Hemedti is his deputy.

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