Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Sudan begins expelling foreign diplomats

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Sudan’s army said on Saturday it has begun evacuating foreign diplomats and civilians from the country after a week of fighting that has hampered rescue efforts.

The military said in a statement that the Saudi diplomats had been evacuated, and that the UK, US, France and China were expected to send military aircraft to Khartoum to evacuate their diplomats in the “coming hours”.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said the kingdom evacuated 157 people, including 91 Saudis and citizens of other countries. State television showed a navy ship arriving in the port city of Jeddah with refugees.

A French official declined to confirm a Sudanese claim that the evacuation of French diplomats would begin soon.

British officials warned of an evacuation “in the coming hours” but did not rule out the possibility that diplomats would be moved over the weekend.

US Embassy in Khartoum said in a tweet that the precarious security situation in Khartoum and the closure of the airport meant that the government-coordinated evacuation of private American citizens was not safe.

Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, chaired an emergency COBR meeting on Saturday morning at which key ministers, including Ben Wallace, the Defense Secretary, reflected concerns in London about the situation in Sudan.

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Foreign governments race against time to evacuate their citizens. Fierce fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and a powerful paramilitary group that erupted late last week has crippled Khartoum airport, where several civilian aircraft have been destroyed. Foreign governments race against time to evacuate their citizens.

The fighting is a power struggle between forces led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti, Sudan’s vice president and commander of the Rapid Support Force.

More than 400 people have been killed, including at least four UN aid workers, and more than 3,500 injured. The US State Department confirmed that an American citizen had been killed in the fighting, but did not provide further details.

Three employees of the World Food Program and one employee of the International Organization for Migration have also been killed, a US diplomatic convoy has been attacked and a Norwegian residence has been hit with a missile. Other diplomatic delegations were also attacked.