Why is there fighting in Sudan, and who is behind the conflict?

Sudan is facing among the worst fighting in its history as it struggles to transition to a civilian-led government. Thousands of people are caught in the crossfire, stuck in homes or trying to leave the country as it sinks into chaos.

The military, led by president Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, led by vice president Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemedti) have clashed in the streets over the past week, leaving at least 450 people dead and thousands more injured, according to the United Nations, amid a week of “almost uninterrupted” violence, raising fears of a wider conflict that could destabilize the region. The Pentagon said Monday that senior U.S. defense officials, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been in touch with the warring leaders.

Foreign governments have organized dangerous evacuations for diplomatic staff and, in some cases, private citizens. On Sunday, the United States said it had evacuated all embassy staff, though it warned it could not ensure help for U.S. citizens still in Sudan — an estimated 16,000 as of last week, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. The Pentagon has also sent two warships to the Port of Sudan, one of which is still en route, and is using aerial drones to scan roads and determine potential land routes out.

One U.S. citizen has been confirmed killed, the State Department said April 21, without providing further details.

The full casualty count remains unknown. Airstrikes, gunfire and artillery have rocked the capital, Khartoum, but the violence has spread to other areas, including the Darfur region. After repeated cease-fire agreements failed, the weekend saw a drawdown amid a three-day holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

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