Sudan's generals agree to ceasefire after US convoy takes fire
By Khalid Abdelaziz, Nafisa Eltahir and Humeyra Pamuk
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's rival commanders agreed a 24-hour ceasefire from Tuesday evening, the army said, following calls to each side from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken over fierce fighting in Khartoum that saw shots fired at a U.S. diplomatic convoy.
The ceasefire will start at 6.00 p.m. (1600 GMT) and will not extend beyond the agreed 24 hours, Army General Shams El Din Kabbashi, a member of Sudan's ruling military council, said on Al Arabiya TV.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate calls with the army chief and the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), whose power struggle has killed at least 185 people across the country and derailed an internationally-backed plan to shift to civilian rule after decades of autocracy and military control.
RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, whose whereabouts have not been disclosed since fighting began, said the RSF approved the 24-hour ceasefire to ensure the safe passage of civilians and the evacuation of the wounded.
In a post on Twitter, Hemedti said he had "discussed pressing issues" with Blinken during their call and more talks were planned. The RSF also issued a statement saying it was waging a continuing battle to restore "the rights of our people" in what it called a new revolution.
Blinken said initial reports suggested the attack on the U.S. envoy was undertaken by forces associated with the RSF, calling the action "reckless". He said all U.S. personnel were safe after the incident, calling threats to U.S. diplomats "totally unacceptable."
Underscoring the risk a prolonged conflict presents to regional stability, Kabbashi said two neighbouring countries were attempting to provide aid to the RSF. He did not identify the countries.
Early on Tuesday, gunfire echoed across Sudan's capital accompanied by the sound of warplanes and explosions, a Reuters reporter said. Residents in Khartoum's neighbouring cities of Omdurman and Bahri also reported air strikes that shook buildings and anti-aircraft fire.
The fighting has raged in several regions of the country since Saturday. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was nearly impossible to provide humanitarian services around the capital. It warned the country's health system was at risk of collapse.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum, Nafisa Eltahir and Hatem Maher in Cairo, Humeyra Pamuk in Tokyo and Claudia Tanos in Dubai; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Christina Fincher)
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