Sudanese army forces have blasted bases of Rapid Support Forces [RSF] with artillery in Khartoum, a flare-up that came after the army pulled out of Saudi-brokered ceasefire talks, accusing their foes of failing to honour their commitments.
On Wednesday, in both the north and south of the capital, key bases of commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo's RSF paramilitary came under attack by troops loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan, residents told the AFP news agency.
One witness said there was "heavy artillery fire from army camps" in northern Khartoum, on the 47th day of fighting that researchers said has claimed 1,800 lives since April 15.
Another reported "artillery blasts on the RSF camp in Al Salha" in southern Khartoum — the largest paramilitary base and arsenal in the city.
Despite repeated pledges from both sides, fighting has flared this week both in greater Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur.
"The army is ready to fight until victory," Burhan declared during a visit to troops in the capital.
The RSF, led by Burhan's deputy-turned-foe Dagalo, said they would "exercise their right to defend themselves" and accused the army of violating the truce.
Mediators have blamed both sides for violating the truce, which was supposed to enable secure corridors for delivering aid to an increasingly needy population.
The mediators of the talks, held in the Saudi city of Jeddah, acknowledged repeated breaches but have held off imposing any sanctions.
The army walked out "because the rebels have never implemented a single one of the provisions of a short-term ceasefire which required their withdrawal from hospitals and residential buildings", a Sudanese government official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
Mediators admitted the truce had been "imperfectly observed", but said the extension would "permit further humanitarian efforts".
Sudan specialist Aly Verjee said the mediators had been eager to avoid a complete breakdown of the talks, for fear of a major escalation on the ground.
"The mediators know that the situation is bad," but were hoping for "arrangements that are better respected", Verjee, a researcher at Sweden's University of Gothenburg, said before the army's withdrawal from the talks.
Humanitarian aid disrupted
On Sunday, the mediators said both forces had disrupted humanitarian efforts, including through the presence of snipers near hospitals in RSF-controlled territory, and army "elements" stealing medical supplies.
They said RSF occupied "civilian homes, private businesses, and public buildings", some of which were looted, while Burhan's forces flew military aircraft daily during the ceasefire, "including a confirmed air strike" that reportedly killed two people.
African Union spokesperson Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told AFP that suspension of the talks should "not discourage" mediation efforts.
The United Nations says 1.2 million people have been internally displaced and more than 425,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.
More than half the population — 25 million people — are now in need of aid and protection, the UN said.
Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, electricity is only available for a few hours a week, and three-quarters of hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.
The Health Ministry said on Wednesday that "nine health facilities" had gone out of service in Jazira state, just south of Khartoum, "despite the declared truce."
It blamed "the presence of RSF militias threatening the movement of medical personnel and supplies."