EU ambassador assaulted in Khartoum home

Aidan O'Hara speaks in Sudan

Aidan O’Hara became the EU ambassador to Sudan in 2022

The EU’s ambassador in Sudan, Aidan O’Hara, has been assaulted at his home in Khartoum, which is gripped by deadly fighting between rival forces.

The Irish diplomat was not “seriously hurt”, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin has confirmed.

Mr Martin described the attack as a “gross violation of obligations to protect diplomats”.

Around 185 people have been killed and more than 1,800 injured in three days of fighting, according to the UN.

The city has seen air strikes, shelling and heavy small-arms fire.

Both the army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) claim to control key sites in Khartoum, where residents have been sheltering from explosions.

Mr Martin described the ambassador as an “outstanding Irish and European diplomat who is serving the EU under the most difficult circumstances”.

“We thank him for his service and call for an urgent cessation of violence in Sudan, and resumption of dialogue,” he said.

Earlier, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted that the security of diplomatic premises and staff was a “primary responsibility” of the Sudanese authorities.

EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali told AFP news agency the EU delegation had not been evacuated from Khartoum following the attack. Staff security was the priority and security measures were being assessed, she added.

Sudan: The basics

  • Sudan is in north-east Africa and has a history of instability: It fell under military rule in 2019, when long-time leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled

  • Since then, two men have been in charge: The head of the army and his deputy, who is also the head of a paramilitary group called the RSF

  • They disagree on how to restore civilian rule to Sudan: The RSF leader claims to represent marginalised groups against the country’s elites but his forces were accused of ethnic cleansing

US state department spokesman John Kirby said there were currently no plans to evacuate US personnel, despite ongoing security concerns and the closure of Khartoum’s airport.

But he urged all Americans to treat the situation “with the utmost seriousness”.

The conflict has forced many civilians to shelter in their homes amid fears of a prolonged conflict that could land the country in deeper chaos.

On Monday, clouds of smoke were visible above Khartoum’s main airport, with TV showing images of fires and explosions. Army air strikes targeted RSF bases, some of which are embedded in residential areas.

Hospitals were shelled, doctors say. Damage was reported at al-Shab Teaching Hospital in Khartoum along with two other clinics.

Smoke billows behind a mosque and residential buildings in eastern Khartoum on April 17, 2023, as fighting in Sudan raged for a third day in battles between the army and paramilitary forces. -

Fighting raged in Khartoum again on Monday

The fighting is between army units loyal to the de facto leader, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, a notorious paramilitary force commanded by Sudan’s deputy leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti.

Hemedti said on Monday that the international community must intervene, and branded Gen Burhan “a radical Islamist who is bombing civilians from the air”. Gen Burhan has said he is willing to negotiate.

The two sides held a brief ceasefire on Sunday to allow the wounded to be evacuated, although it was not clear how strictly they had stuck to it.

The regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or Igad, will send the presidents of South Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya to the country to try to broker peace.

Igad’s executive secretary, Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, told the BBC there were some signs that progress could be made.

“They are preparing to travel to Sudan to meet with the two leaders but they are engaging with them through back channel diplomacy, they are speaking to these leaders to cease hostilities, to stop the fighting and return to the negotiating table,” he said.

“Both these leaders are agreeable to mediation, which by itself is a very positive development over the last few hours. Our leaders have experience when it comes to mediating in conflicts.”

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