Smoke is seen rising from a neighborhood in Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, April 15, 2023.InternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieThe UK has often had a troubled relationship with its former colony Sudan. The Mahdist movement defeated General Charles Gordon’s army at the siege of Khartoum in 1885, and more than a century later British teacher Gillian Gibbons caused a diplomatic incident between the two countries by naming a class teddy bear after the prophet Muhammad.Some 4,000 British citizens face an uncertain fate in Sudan after UK troops evacuated staff from its embassy in Khartoum.London and Paris followed Washington’s lead over the weekend after US forces extracted 71 staff from its embassy by helicopter in scenes reminiscent of the end of the Vietnam War.That followed a week of fierce fighting between the military government and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which oppose the army’s demand that that it integrate with the national armed forces within two years. But British and French diplomats and their had to make their way to a military airfield outside the city by road, reportedly coming under fire at one point. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130 and A400M transport planes flew in from the Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus to carry the group of 30 out.On Monday an RAF C-17 heavy transport aircraft carrying troops landed at Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast, more than 500 miles by road from Khartoum. The Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster is also reportedly positioned in the region.But there are no plans for an immediate evacuation of British citizens in the former colony yet.Armed Forces Minister James Heappy said “of course the job isn’t done” after the rescue of the diplomats, and the COBRA cabinet emergency committee would meet to decide the next moves.”Work is under way… and has been all weekend and all of the back end of last week to give the prime minister and COBRA options for what else could be done to support the wider community of British nationals in Sudan,” Heappy said. “Those options are being developed at pace,” he stressed. “The prime minister will be given the option to take any of the options that we present him with as and when they arise and that’s been the rhythm of things all weekend long.”AfricaCountries Evacuating Nationals, Diplomats From Sudan23 April, 17:04 GMTMeanwhile other countries have already started getting their citizens out of Sudan. Turkiye said on Saturday it would begin extracting its nationals via a “third country” on Sunday, While on Sunday night Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said all Italians who wanted to leave had been evacuated. Some 16,000 US nationals remain in Sudan.Sudan has been the site of previous British military adventures. General Charles Gordon was killed in Khartoum in 1885 during his expedition against a rebellion led by Muhammad Ahmad, a leader who declared himself the Mahdi — the ‘expected one’ — prophesised by the Islamic faith. The Mahdi’s Ansar or Dervish followers besieged Gordon’s army in the city for 10 months before it fell, heralding the birth of the independent Mahdiyah state which survived for 14 years.In 2007, British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons was arrested in Khartoum and held for 15 days on charges of blasphemy, after she allowed children in the class she taught to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Gibbons was released after President Omar al-Bashir — later deposed in the 2019 military coup d’etat — granted her a pardon.
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