US evacuates diplomats from Sudan as fighting rages on

US President Joe Biden orders evacuation of around 70 Americans; says embassy has temporarily suspended operations

The State Department has suspended operations at the embassy due to the dire security situation. It was not clear when the embassy might resume functioning. File photo: PTI

The US on Sunday (April 23) carried out a rapid evacuation of its staff from Sudan after shuttering the American embassy in Khartoum as the fighting in the African nation raged for the ninth consecutive day. The evacuation was done by US troops.

Calling for an end to the “unconscionable” fighting in Sudan’s capital, US President Joe Biden said in a statement late on Saturday (US time), “Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US Government personnel from Khartoum.” He added that the embassy was “temporarily suspending operations.”

Biden said he was “proud of the extraordinary commitment” of the US embassy staff, “who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan.” The US President pushed for an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire”, “unhindered humanitarian access” and respect for “the will of the people of Sudan”.

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A report by CNN said all the diplomats and their families were “safely on their way out of Sudan on a US military aircraft.”

According to a senior US government official, Biden ordered American troops to evacuate embassy personnel after receiving a recommendation from his national security team earlier on Saturday (April 22) as there was no end in sight to the fighting between the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Forces.

The evacuation order was believed to apply to about 70 Americans. US forces airlifted them from a landing zone at the embassy to an unspecified location.

The State Department has suspended operations at the embassy due to the dire security situation. Reports said the US military had deployed “additional capabilities” near Sudan over the past few days to help it prepare for an evacuation.

Although the heads of the warring troops had agreed for a ceasefire on the day of Eid al-Fitr at the request of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to help in the evacuation of US diplomats, they failed to keep their word as violence broke out moments after the ceasefire.

Watch: Explained: What’s behind the bloodbath in Sudan?

Despite the evacuation of its diplomats, the US government, on Friday had told its citizens in Sudan not to expect an evacuation.

“…due to uncertain security situations in Khartoum and closure of the airport, Americans should have no expectations of a US government-coordinated evacuation at this time,” State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Friday.

 (With inputs from agencies)