1 American dead in Sudan as U.S. readies troops for potential embassy evacuation
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Washington — An American citizen has died in Sudan amid intense fighting between two rival generals, the State Department said Thursday, as the U.S. repositions troops in the region ahead of a potential evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.
“We can confirm the death of one U.S. citizen in Sudan,” a State Department spokesperson said. “We are in touch with the family and offer our deepest condolences to them on their loss.”
The State Department declined to offer further details on the death, citing respect for the person’s family.
Despite a ceasefire meant to bring an end to the bloodshed, hundreds of people have been killed in Sudan as fighting continues between forces controlled by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is in charge of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group. A marked U.S. diplomatic convoy came under fire earlier this week, although no one was injured.
The Pentagon is “moving forward to pre-position some military forces and capabilities nearby just for contingency purposes in case they would be needed for any kind of evacuation,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed Thursday during the White House press briefing.
Kirby said President Biden had authorized the move in recent days, but stressed that no decision has been made about whether to evacuate U.S. personnel.
“We want to make sure we’ve got the capability ready in case it’s needed,” Kirby said. A U.S. official said the Pentagon has moved special operations forces into Djibouti, a small country on the Horn of Africa.
In a statement earlier in the day, the Defense Department said U.S. Africa Command is monitoring the situation and “conducting prudent planning for various contingencies.”
“As part of this, we are deploying additional capabilities nearby in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of U.S. Embassy personnel from Sudan, if circumstances require it,” the statement said.
Americans in the country have been urged to shelter in place. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Thursday it is “currently not safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens.”
Patel also said that all U.S. personnel are accounted for, and he is not currently aware of specific threats against embassy personnel or U.S. citizens in the country.
Senior U.S. officials are in direct contact with the leadership of both sides and are pushing for an immediate ceasefire, a National Security spokesperson said.
Eleanor Watson, David Martin, Haley Ott, Olivia Gazis and Willie Inman contributed to this report.