A week-long ceasefire in Sudan was intended to begin the delivery of humanitarian aid on Monday evening, as witnesses in the capital Khartoum reported fighter planes overhead and fighting continued in some areas.
The US and Saudi Arabia announced an agreement to halt six weeks of fighting, saying it would come into effect at 9.45pm (7.45pm BST). World powers pressured the military and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Force to sign an agreement. Previous attempts have failed.
Witnesses said heavy shelling could be heard in eastern Khartoum and a resident shared a picture of thick black smoke billowing into the sky. In Omdurman and Bahri, the twin cities adjacent to Khartoum, shooting could still be heard.
Hours before the ceasefire came into effect, the army launched heavy airstrikes against its paramilitary rivals in the capital, Khartoum.
Although fighting has continued through previous ceasefires, this was the first formally agreed after negotiations.
The fighting has pitted the Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against the RSF led by Burhan’s former deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. Limited access to water, electricity and medicine has displaced more than a million people and left millions more trapped.
The ceasefire deal includes for the first time a monitoring mechanism involving the army and the RSF, as well as representatives from Saudi Arabia and the US, who mediated the agreement after talks in Jeddah.
Shortly before the ceasefire took effect, RSF released an audio message from Dagalo in which he thanked Saudi Arabia and the US but urged his people to lead the victory.
“We will not back down until we put an end to this coup,” he said.
Aid agencies struggled to operate amid the violence, with facilities attacked during the conflict. The Sudanese Journalists’ Syndicate has accused RSF of robbing and attacking journalists. The syndicate said Ahmed Fadol, a reporter, and Rashid Jibril, a freelance videographer, were beaten at Al Jazeera along with their relatives who were in an apartment when RSF soldiers raided it last week.
“The Syndicate of Journalists rejects the targeting and terrorizing of journalists and gives full responsibility to the parties to the armed conflict for their safety while they are working in extremely complex conditions,” the syndicate said in a statement.
In West Darfur state, Inam Elnour, a journalist, was injured and three of her brothers were killed when a shell hit her home last week in Al-Ginana, which has killed 2,000 people during clashes between armed forces since 15 April. Others were killed.
Two journalists were attacked in Neyla, the capital of South Darfur state; Khalid Sharaf was injured in his arm and leg by a missile that targeted his house on Sunday; and Isa Dafaallah was arrested and beaten by the RSF while he was covering looting and arson at a market. Dafaallah was later released after being accused of working for military intelligence.
Other local journalists, some of whom were working with regional media organizations, complained that their names were added to lists accusing them of supporting the RSF.