- By Robert Greenall
- BBC News
Rival factions of Sudan’s military have agreed to renew a three-day ceasefire, shortly before it was due to expire.
The extension – for another 72 hours – follows intensive diplomatic efforts by neighboring countries, as well as the US, the UK and the UN.
But there are continuing reports of heavy fighting in the capital Khartoum.
The previous truce allowed thousands of people to try to flee to safety, while dozens of countries tried to evacuate their citizens.
Nearly two weeks of fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary group has left hundreds dead.
The ceasefire is expected to end at midnight local time (22:00 GMT).
Early on Thursday night the Sudanese regular army agreed to an extension, and its rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) followed suit hours later.
South Sudan has offered to host peace talks, and the army has agreed to send representatives to the talks.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was “working very actively” to extend the truce, adding that while not perfect it had reduced violence.
But White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the situation could worsen at any time.
Meanwhile the RSF and eyewitnesses said the army was occupying its positions in Khartoum.
The civilian government’s foreign minister, Maryam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, told the BBC from her home in Khartoum that despite the ceasefire, civilians were still living in fear.
“What they call truce has nothing to do with what’s going on,” he told Radio Four’s World Tonight programme. “Bombing planes are going on most of the day and night.”
Fighting has also been reported in the western region of Darfur and other provinces.
At least 512 people were killed in the fighting and nearly 4,200 were wounded, although the true death toll may be higher.
The World Health Organization said it expected “many more” deaths due to the spread of the disease and lack of services.
Health officials say most hospitals in conflict areas are not functioning, and more than 60% of health facilities in Khartoum are inactive.
David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee and former British foreign secretary, said the international community was in danger of neglecting the wider crisis in Sudan in the rush to evacuate foreign nationals.
“The fact that in the last ten days almost all the media coverage and the vast bulk of political attention has been on the exodus of thousands of people and not on the need to care for millions of people has really stuck in the gullet,” said he. the BBC.
“Of course the lives of the thousands who had to evacuate are important, but what about the 45 million who remain?
“The population of Sudan has 15 million people in need of humanitarian needs and I think part of our call today as the International Rescue Committee is to say that we should not fall into that trap of thinking that when thousands are displaced will solve the problem.”
An army statement quoted by Reuters news agency said it had taken control of most regions of Sudan but “the situation is quite complicated in some parts of the capital”.
It has not been possible for the BBC to verify the army’s claims.
Foreign countries, including the UK, are urging their citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.
Speaking on Thursday night, Ms Jean-Pierre urged Americans to leave within the next 24 hours.
Evacuation continues, but many foreigners are still stuck in Sudan. Some had difficulty reaching the airstrip used for evacuation.
Local civilians continue to flee the capital, where there are problems with food, water and fuel supplies.
Fighting broke out on 15 April as a result of a bitter power struggle between the regular army and the RSF.
Army commander Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF chief Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, disagree about the country’s proposed transition to civilian rule, and in particular about in time for the integration of the 100,000 strong RSF into the army.
The two factions fear losing power in Sudan because both sides have men who could end up at the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in Darfur nearly 20 years ago.