Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Tuesday that a US diplomatic convoy came under intense gunfire in the capital of Sudan following multiple days of fighting between the military and a rival paramilitary group amid a struggle to rule the nation.
Blinken in statements issued from Japan called the attack, which included at least 100 rounds fired on the US embassy convoy according to international reports, a “reckless” and “irresponsible” attack and called on both sides of the raging conflict to uphold the safety and security of American diplomatic personnel.
He confirmed that none of the Americans were injured, and that the convoy came under fire despite clearly bearing diplomatic plates and a US flag.
The attackers are believed affiliated with the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia in Khartoum, especially given assailants from the same militia were likely behind a prior attack on the EU ambassador within his own residence.
US ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey wasn’t injured in the rare incident, nor was he traveling in the US convoy when it came under fire.
Satellite imagery collected this morning (April 17, 2023) over #Khartoum, #Sudan, shows damage from the ongoing fighting between rival Sudanese military factions. Seen here is Khartoum International Airport where at least 14 airplanes have been destroyed & many others damaged. pic.twitter.com/eIr50SL6sm
— Maxar Technologies (@Maxar) April 17, 2023
The RSF has been engulfed in a battle with the country’s military over several days, with two rival generals leading the civil conflict, and as the death toll mounts, soaring past 185 killed as of Tuesday. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the spiraling conflict “is now catastrophic” for civilians and as an unfolding humanitarian disaster.
Blinken additionally in the Tuesday press briefing said he spoke by phone with the military chiefs of both rival sides. He informed the commander of the Sudanese military General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as well as the commander of the RSF militia Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (widely known as Hemedti) that they must ensure the safety of civilians, diplomatic personnel, and humanitarian workers.
Further according to Axios, “Blinken said he proposed to the two generals a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Sudan that would allow the delivery of aid and could be a basis for a more stable cessation of hostilities.”
The Sudanese army initially said it has agreed to a 24-hour pause in fighting starting Tuesday, but it appears to already be breaking down, as the RSF quickly charged that Sudanese armed forces had “failed to honor” the agreement.
The army in a statement had accused the R.S.F. of trying to use a cease-fire “to cover up the crushing defeat it will receive within hours.”
But Arabic language news media reported that the army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had agreed to the deal.
Over the weekend when heavy gunfire and explosions rocked the capital, US Embassy personnel and American citizens in the country were told to “shelter in place” – after which emergency evacuations commenced while the situation spiraled.