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SAS night-time mission rescues diplomats trapped in war-torn Sudan but scores of Brits still stranded
23 April 2023, 13:25 | Updated: 24 April 2023, 06:53
British special forces carried out a dramatic night-time rescue of British diplomats and their families amid the fierce fighting in Sudan.
Late on Saturday night, a team of elite Royal Marines, SAS and Royal Air Force operatives flew into the capital Khartoum on a American military aircraft.
It's understood that once they landed, they got hold of a number of local vehicles and drove into the city.
They then sought out around two dozen British diplomats and their families who had been holed up in an area of Khartoum located in the regular and paramilitary forces fighting for control of the city.
It proved challenging for the troops to reach, with fears that if the fighting became too intense more soldiers and aircraft and would be needed to provide backup.
Despite this, the team managed to drive a group of around 30, including children, to an airfield 18 miles outside of the city, after passing through several checkpoints, the Mail reports.
They then boarded two Royal Air Force transport planes that had arrived from a British military base in Cyprus and took the evacuees to safety in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Sunday the UK army had completed the "rapid and complex" evacuation, saying there had been a "significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff".
"I pay tribute to the commitment of our diplomats and bravery of the military personnel who carried out this difficult operation," Mr Sunak tweeted.
"We are continuing to pursue every avenue to end the bloodshed in Sudan and ensure the safety of British nationals remaining in the country.
"I urge the parties to lay down their arms and implement an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to ensure civilians can leave conflict zones."
UK armed forces have completed a complex and rapid evacuation of British diplomats and their families from Sudan, amid a significant escalation in violence and threats to embassy staff.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) April 23, 2023
I pay tribute to the commitment of our diplomats and bravery of the military personnel who…
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the evacuees were taken overnight to an airfield outside of the capital, Khartoum, to be flown out of the country.
Violence between the country's regular army and paramilitary force Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted in Sudan last week, with shooting and shelling seen in the capital.
There is little electricity and supplies of food and water are running out for many.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the decision to evacuate staff was made due to "specific threats and violence directed towards diplomats".
He said that relocating the embassy to a nearby country, would mean diplomats could give more assistance to those in Sudan.
But he said admitted the government's ability to move out other British nationals was "severely limited" until fighting between the two groups ceased.
The UK government previously said it is "doing everything possible" to support British nationals currently in Sudan as fighting in the African nation rages on.
Mr Sunak chaired a COBRA meeting on Saturday morning amid the continued fighting, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has confirmed.
Mr Wallace and Africa minister Andrew Mitchell were also in attendance.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said there were "specific threats and violence directed towards diplomats" which led to the decision to evacuate staff.
He said that by relocating the embassy to a nearby country, diplomats could provide more assistance to those in Sudan.
But he admitted that government's ability to move out other British nationals was "severely limited" until fighting between the regular army and paramilitary ceased.
A spokesperson for the government said: "We recognise that the situation is extremely concerning for British nationals trapped by the fighting in Sudan.
"We are doing everything possible to support British nationals and diplomatic staff in Khartoum, and the Ministry of Defence is working with the Foreign Office to prepare for a number of contingencies."
There were also two COBRA meetings on Friday.
While opposing forces were allies and seized power in 2021, tensions have increased over the proposed integration of the paramilitary forces into the Sudanese military.