UK could send troops to evacuate nationals from Sudan

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LONDON: The UK was on Friday finalizing plans to evacuate hundreds of its citizens from Sudan.

British officials were setting up an emergency operation to extricate several hundred people trapped in the north African country following the outbreak of hostilities between two rival Sudanese commanders.

Fighting broke out on Saturday between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and so far, at least 300 people have died.

The situation on the ground reportedly remained dangerous and complex, but efforts to speed up the rescue of foreign citizens have intensified after EU diplomat, Wim Fransen, was shot and injured in the capital Khartoum during clashes.

Japan has said it will deploy troops to Sudan to secure the safe passage of its citizens, a move the UK Ministry of Defense was also thought to be considering.

The proximity of US and French military bases in nearby Djibouti could also facilitate such a mission, which would be conducted in coordination between the UK and other allies.

Ongoing fighting around Khartoum International Airport, however, would make any extraction operations difficult.

At least nine employees of the British Council are known to be trapped in their office in Khartoum, where they have remained for five days.

One of the employees, Mohamad Berer, told The Guardian: “We are terrified — the fighting is all around us. We have been patient, but now honestly, we are starting to feel anxious.”

The UK Embassy in Khartoum has remained operational and officials there have told British citizens in Sudan to seek shelter where possible.

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told The Times: “We continue to be very concerned about the escalating violence in Sudan. The UK and our allies are urging the Sudanese leadership to restrain their troops and de-escalate to prevent further bloodshed.

“We’re in contact with international partners and the UK Embassy in Khartoum to help resolve this crisis and ensure the safety of diplomatic staff and British nationals.”