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Russia Evacuates 200 Diplomats, Civilians From Sudan as Fighting Intensifies

Smoke rises in Khartoum, Sudan, as gunfire and heavy artillery fire continued despite the extension of a cease-fire between the country's two top generals. Marwan Ali / AP / TASS

Russia has evacuated more than 200 of its diplomats and other Russian nationals from Sudan as fighting between the country's army chief and paramilitaries entered its third week, state media reported Tuesday.

The first two Russian Defense Ministry transport aircraft landed outside Moscow in the morning, according to footage published by the military’s Zvezda broadcaster.

The outlet said Russia’s evacuees also included citizens of ex-Soviet republics and other states that had requested Moscow’s assistance.

On Monday a U.S.-operated evacuation ship arrived in Saudi Arabia carrying more than 300 civilians from multiple countries, Saudi state media said.

Another Saudi ship also docked in Jeddah with evacuees from Sudan, adding to the more than 5,400 civilians the kingdom has received.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded since fighting erupted on April 15 between Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

While foreign nations have helped thousands of their citizens escape by air, road and sea, at least 75,000 Sudanese are internally displaced and more than 50,000 have already escaped overland to neighbors, said the UN and other agencies.

The United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, said it was bracing for "the possibility that over 800,000 people may flee the fighting in Sudan for neighboring countries.”

Burhan and Daglo, who fell out after the military's 2021 coup derailed Sudan's democratic transition, have flouted multiple ceasefires and extended the latest by 72 hours late on Sunday.

Sudan's turmoil has seen hospitals shelled, humanitarian facilities looted, and foreign aid groups forced to suspend most of their operations.

AFP contributed reporting.

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