(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken has confirmed an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Sudan amid ongoing violence in the region.
“Yesterday, we had an American diplomatic convoy that was fired on,” said Blinken, who is currently in Japan. “All people are safe.”
He called the attack “reckless, irresponsible and unsafe,” and said it’s being investigated.
Since heavy fighting erupted in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Saturday, at least 97 civilians have been killed in the crossfire while 365 others have been wounded, according to a statement released Monday morning from the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, a pro-democracy group monitoring casualties. The group noted there was “a number of injuries and deaths that are not included” because some “hospitals could not be accessed due to the difficulty of mobility and security situation in the country.”
“Severe damages have been confirmed” at several hospitals in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, with some facilities now “completely out of service” after being bombed, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, which called the issue “a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”
While the violence has spread from Khartoum to other parts of Sudan, “the heaviest concentration of fighting” is centered in the densely populated capital, according to the World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations.
The clashes are the culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese paramilitary group. So far, neither has shown any indication of backing down. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan’s power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019.
Blinken tweeted late Monday, “I spoke to both Sudanese Armed Forces Commander [Gen. Abdel Fattah al] Burhan & Rapid Support Forces Commander [Mohamed Hamdan] Dagalo and underscored the urgent need for a cease-fire. Too many civilian lives have already been lost. Stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of diplomatic personnel and aid workers.”
The White House on Monday called for de-escalation and an “immediate cease-fire without conditions” in Sudan.
“This dangerous escalation jeopardizes the progress made to date in the negotiations to restore Sudan’s democratic transition, and it undermines the aspirations of the Sudanese people,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said.
Kirby said the military leadership is responsible for protecting civilians, non-combatants and those from third countries, including U.S. diplomatic personnel.
“We’ve been in direct contact with both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the SAF and the RSF, respectively, to urge them to end hostilities immediately, without preconditions. And we are consulting very closely with regional and other partners on the situation there in Sudan,” Kirby added.
He urged American citizens in Sudan to “treat this situation with the utmost seriousness.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.