Warring Sudanese factions fail to agree a truce

STORY: Air strikes and artillery pounded Khartoum on Friday (May 12) after Sudan's warring army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces failed to agree a ceasefire.

Instead, out of nearly a week of talks in Saudi Arabia, came a so-called declaration of principles.

It includes commitments to allow safe passage for civilians, medics and humanitarian relief and to minimize harm to civilians and public facilities.

Some Sudanese, such as Al Taj Al Tayyib in Port Sudan, welcomed the agreement.

"I hope this could be a good start and that peace and reassurance spreads in the hearts of people."

U.N. Sudan envoy Volker Perthes said he expected ceasefire talks to begin again on Friday or Saturday (May 13).

He said that though previous truces broke down because both sides thought they could win, neither now believes that victory will be quick.

His upbeat assessment contrasted, however, with disappointment among many residents in the capital.

Speaking from Khartoum, Mohammed Abdallah said: "We were expecting the agreement would calm down the war, but we woke up to artillery fire and airstrikes."

Since violence erupted on April 15, Sudan's rival military factions have shown little desire to end their deadly fighting.

The conflict has paralyzed Sudan's economy and strangled its trade.

That is aggravating a ballooning humanitarian crisis, with the U.N. saying on Friday that 200,000 people have now fled into neighboring countries.