KHARTOUM – The US military has evacuated American diplomats and their families from Khartoum, President Joe Biden has said.
The operation was “fast and clean”, a US official said.
Fewer than 100 people were reportedly evacuated early on Sunday, when three Chinook helicopters landed near the US embassy to collect them.
The French ministry of foreign affairs announced it was also beginning to evacuate its citizens and diplomatic staff from the country.
However, both Sudan’s regular army and its opponents – a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – have said that the evacuation convoy was fired at after leaving the French embassy and had to turn back. They blamed each other for the attack.
One French national was reportedly injured and French authorities have not yet commented.
Fierce violence erupted last week in Khartoum between two opposing armies.
The power struggle between Sudan’s regular army and the RSF has seen heavy bombardment in the capital city, with hundreds killed and thousands more injured.
“Today, on my orders, the United States military conducted an operation to extract US government personnel from Khartoum,” Mr Biden said in a statement.
In a call with reporters after the mission, Lt Gen Douglas Sims said more than 100 US troops from the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces flew from Djibouti to Ethiopia and then into Sudan, and were on the ground for less than an hour.
Although there is no sign of a formal ceasefire, it does appear that the paramilitary group, the RSF, agreed not to shoot at the American helicopters during their mission.
Mr Biden thanked Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, saying they had been “critical to the success of our operation”, and he warmly praised the US embassy staff and military.
The US embassy in Khartoum is now closed, and a tweet on its official feed says it is not safe enough for the government to evacuate private US citizens.
It was the second evacuation of foreign citizens since violence erupted in Sudan’s capital last week.
On Saturday, more than 150 citizens, diplomats and international officials were evacuated by sea to the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah. They were mostly citizens of Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, Pakistan and Canada.
SIMPLE GUIDE: What is going on in Sudan?
Heavy fighting broke out in Khartoum on 15 April.
At the heart of it is a power struggle between forces loyal to Sudanese army chief Abdel Fatteh al-Burhan and the rival RSF.
The near-constant shooting and bombing in Khartoum and elsewhere has cut electricity and safe access to food and water for much of the population.
Several ceasefires that had seemingly been agreed by both sides were ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.
The World Health Organization says the fighting has killed more than 400 people and injured thousands. But the death toll is believed to be much higher as people struggle to reach hospitals.
This story is courtesy of BBC Africa
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