US diplomats attacked as unrest continues in Sudan

American diplomats were fired on as fighting in Sudan continued after a militia claimed the country's presidential palace.
Posted at 9:07 AM, Apr 18, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Tuesday that an American diplomatic convoy in Sudan was fired on as unrest continues to unfold in the country. 

Blinken said the Americans fired on are “safe and unharmed, but this action was reckless, it was irresponsible, and of course unsafe — a diplomatic convoy with diplomatic plates, a U.S. flag, being fired upon.”

The attacks come amid a battle between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). As of Sunday, the Sudan Doctors’ Union reported there have been 56 fatalities due to the conflict. The United Nations said it is unclear if these deaths were all civilians or included combatants. 

Among the deaths, the United Nations reported that three U.N. agency national staff were killed in Kabkabiya. The U.N. blamed the RSF for the attack. The U.N. added that some of its vehicles have been looted.

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Blinken said he has spoken to the generals in charge of both forces. 

“In the calls that I had this morning with Gens. (Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo) and (Abdel Fattah al-Burhan), I made very clear that any attacks, threats, dangers posed to our diplomats were totally unacceptable.  This particular incident is still being investigated in terms of understanding exactly what happened,” Blinken said. 

Blinken urged both sides to begin a 24-hour cease-fire. 

"I also underscored in both calls the responsibilities that Sudanese fighting forces bear for ensuring the safety and security of U.S. and other diplomats who are resident in Sudan, as well as for U.N. staff and other humanitarian partners," he said. "If implemented successfully, a cease-fire for 24 hours can create a foundation to build upon for a more sustained halt to the fighting and a return to negotiations on a durable end to the hostilities."

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said on Twitter it was closely monitoring the developing situation. It told U.S. residents in the area to stay inside and shelter in place "until further notice." The U.S. government currently does not have plans to coordinate an evacuation.

The attacks came after the RSF reportedly took over state television, the presidential palace and other key government facilities, the U.N. said. The United Nations said some humanitarian efforts have been suspended amid the conflict.

"Both sides of this conflict should allow access to humanitarian aid and they should protect humanitarian workers," said UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Seif Magango, in an interview with Scripps News. "We lost three colleagues while working for the World Food Programme. And, of course, you know, the dangers are many, but the need to open up Khartoum and other cities for humanitarian access to reach those in need is paramount. If that is not done, it is likely going to be a lot more suffering, a lot more pain and a lot more deaths."

"We hope that this 24 hour cease fire is respected and people are able to go out to stock up and buy some food and access medical care and all of that, because the situation is going to get worse if that doesn't happen," Magango said.