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Sudan: Scores of people evacuated as diplomats reportedly come under fire

US says troops entered Sudan to extract citizens, while the RSF says French nationals were shot at during evacuation
Saudi Royal Navy officers assist a child onboard their navy ship as they evacuate Saudi and other nationals are through Saudi Navy Ship from Sudan (Reuters)
Saudi Royal Navy officers assist a child onboard their navy ship as they evacuate Saudi and other nationals through a Saudi Navy Ship from Sudan (Reuters)

Foreign nations have begun rapidly evacuating their citizens from Sudan as violence continues to rage across the country.

At least 400 people are thought to have died since fighting broke out between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary, sparked off by plans to integrate the RSF into the armed forces.

US President Joe Biden said American troops had entered Khartoum in helicopters to evacuate embassy staff from the capital.

Biden, who said the US military "conducted an operation" to extract US government personnel, condemned the violence, saying "it's unconscionable and it must stop".

At least 100 US special operations troops took part in the rescue to extract fewer than 100 people.

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Three Chinook helicopters reportedly flew from Djibouti and stayed on the ground in Khartoum for less than an hour.

For its part, Canada temporarily suspended operations in Sudan and extracted its diplomats, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. 

Meanwhile, France's foreign ministry also said on Sunday that a "rapid evacuation operation" had begun, adding that they would also be assisting other European nations and "allied partner countries".

In a statement, the RSF said that it had been assisting in the evacuation of French nationals and had come under fire during the operation, in which one of the French nationals was injured.

"On the morning of 23 April 2023, the Rapid Support Forces were attacked by aircraft during the evacuation of French nationals from their embassy, passing through Bahri to Omdurman, which endangered the lives of French nationals by injuring one of them and the survival of the rest of the convoy members," the paramilitary said on Twitter.

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"In the face of this cowardly attack to preserve the safety of the French nationals, the Rapid Support Forces had to return the convoy to the starting point."

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others also announced they were in the process of extracting their citizens from the country.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also announced on Sunday afternoon that diplomatic staff were being retried.

"UK armed forces have completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff," Sunak tweeted.

Germany's defence ministry later released a similar statement, saying it was evacuating its citizens.

With fighting reportedly still continuing on Sunday morning, people began streaming over the border from Sudan into Egypt.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said that one of its embassy officials had been injured. It added that there were thousands of its citizens in Sudan and was trying to evacuate all those who wished to leave.

Some of the bloodiest fighting has taken place in Khartoum, with air strikes, tank fire and gunfire in densely populated neighbourhoods.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also said that the conflict was particularly intense in Darfur, one of the poorest regions of Sudan, with one MSF doctor telling AFP that "the situation is catastrophic".

The RSF was created in 2013 out of the Janjaweed militias, who gained notoriety for brutally suppressing rebels in Darfur in the mid-2000s and were accused of widespread human rights abuses.

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