Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said they had taken control of the presidential palace, the residence of the army chief and Khartoum international airport on Saturday as clashes erupted with the army in an escalating power struggle.
In a statement, the RSF also said they had taken over the airports in the northern city of Merowe and El-Obeid in the west.
Gunfire could be heard in several parts of Khartoum and eyewitnesses reported shooting in adjoining cities.
At least three civilians were killed in clashes between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, a Sudanese doctors' body said on Saturday.
The spokesman for the Sudanese armed forces said in an interview on the Al Jazeera Mubasher television station that the army would respond to any "irresponsible" actions, as its forces clash with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in several parts of the capital Khartoum and the country.
Brigadier-General Nabil Abdallah said in the interview that some politicians had been trying to politicize the military. He also said that RSF troops had a heavy presence at the headquarters of the state television station.
A Reuters journalist saw cannons and armored vehicles deployed in streets and heard the sound of heavy weapons fire near the headquarters of both the army and RSF.
The army said the RSF had tried to attack its troops in several positions after witnesses reported heavy gunfire in multiple parts of the country, raising fears of a full-blown conflict.
The RSF said its forces were attacked by the army.
A prolonged confrontation between the RSF and the army could spell prolonged strife across a vast country already dealing with economic breakdown and flare-ups of tribal violence.
Earlier, the RSF, headed by former militia leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, said the army had surrounded one of its bases and opened fire with heavy weapons.
Violence follows days of tension between army, RSF
The violence followed days of tension between the army and the RSF, a powerful paramilitary group. This had sparked concern about a confrontation that would undermine long-running efforts to return Sudan to civilian rule after power struggles and military coups.
Hemedti had put himself at the forefront of a planned transition toward democracy, unsettling fellow military rulers and triggering a mobilization of troops in the capital Khartoum.
The rift between the forces came to the surface on Thursday, when the army said that recent movements, particularly in Merowe, by the RSF had taken place without coordination and were illegal.
The RSF said in a statement actions by the leadership of the armed forces and "some officers" were an attack on its forces and were intended to create instability.
On Saturday there was a heavy exchange of gunfire in Merowe, eyewitnesses told Reuters.
A statement by the RSF on Saturday called the army's actions a "brute assault" which should be condemned. It said the RSF had informed local and international mediators of developments.
The RSF, which together with the army overthrew long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, began redeploying units in Khartoum and elsewhere amid talks last month on its integration into the military under a transition plan that would lead to new elections.
Hemedti, a former widely feared militia commander in Darfur, has been deputy leader of the ruling Sovereign Council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since 2019.
Clashes are taking place at the headquarters of Sudan's state TV, an anchor who appeared on screen briefly said on Saturday, amid clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army.
Gunshots could be heard in the background, a Reuters witness said.
Sudan paramilitary commander Hemedti accuses army of attempted coup
The commander of Sudan's powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, called army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan a criminal and accused the army of carrying out a coup, in a live phone interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network on Saturday.
Hemedti said his troops were forced into a confrontation, as clashes with the army erupted across the country following days of tension.
Sudan's paramilitary force shares video they claim shows 'surrendered' Egyptian troops
Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces shared a video on Saturday that they said showed Egyptian troops who had "surrendered" to them in Merowe, northern Sudan.
This occurred as clashes erupted between the RSF, Sudan's main paramilitary group, and the army on Saturday.
There was no clear explanation for the presence of Egyptian troops in Merowe on Saturday, but Egyptian and Sudanese troops have periodically staged joint military exercises in the north of the country in the wake of diplomatic tensions with Ethiopia.
The video showed a number of men dressed in army fatigues crouched on the ground and speaking to members of the RSF in an Egyptian Arabic dialect to troops in RSF uniforms.
Reuters could not immediately verify the footage and Egyptian authorities did not immediately make any public comment on the matter.
The fighting between the paramilitary group and the army broke out in the capital on Saturday morning, and has extended to several parts of the country including Merowe.
A mobilization of RSF forces towards the Merowe military airport on Wednesday was the spark for an army statement on Thursday that described recent RSF moves as illegal and said it went beyond the force's duties, bringing long-bubbling disagreements to the surface.
Sudan army says no dialog with RSF before its dissolution
Sudan’s armed forces on Saturday dismissed any possibility of negotiations or dialog with the country's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
There will be “no negotiations or dialog until the dissolution of the paramilitary RSF”, the armed forces said on its Facebook page.
Elements of RSF and the armed forces exchanged gunfire in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country on Saturday in an apparent struggle for control.