DALLAS – Weeks of tensions between rival military leaders in Sudan turned violent on Saturday, as rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF) claim to have taken control of Khartoum’s International Airport (KRT) in an apparent coup attempt.
Footage from broadcasters shows a SkyUp Airlines (PQ) Boeing 737-800 (UR-SQH · MSN 30292), and a Saudia (SV) Airbus A330-300 (HZ-AQ30 · MSN 1834) hit by gunfire and burning on the tarmac. A third aircraft, which appears to be a Bombardier CRJ-200 operated by Voyageur Airways (VC) on behalf of United Nations (UN) Humanitarian Air Service was also destroyed.
Flightradar24.com claims that other aircraft have also been “heavily damaged.”
According to data from Flightradar24.com, UR-SQH landed at 03:52 local time (01:52 GMT) operating flight SO222 from Jeddah (JED) on behalf of Sun Air Aviation, a Sudanese airline. The Saudia A330 was scheduled to depart at 09:30 local time (07:30 GMT) to Riyadh (RUH) as flight SV458.
Saudia issued a statement, confirming the incident involving flight SV458. The airline confirmed that the crew and passengers of the flight were evacuated from the airport and arrived safely at the Saudi Embassy in Sudan and that it has canceled until further notice all of its flights to and from Sudan, citing safety reasons.
SkyUp also published a press release, informing that 36 employees of the airline currently staying in Sudan are “in relatively safe locations,” and is coordinating with the Embassies of Ukraine in Egypt and Sudan their exit from the country.
The conflict in Ukraine has disrupted SkyUp’s operations. Recently, the Ukrainian carrier retrieved the last of its aircraft trapped in the country, which was flown out of Borispol Airport (KBP) in Kyiv to Iași Airport (IAS) in Romania.
US ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, said he and his embassy staff were sheltering in place as heavy firing was heard in a number of areas. The British embassy has also warned UK nationals to “remain indoors” as it monitors the situation.
Mr. Godfrey said the escalation was “extremely dangerous,” and called on Sudan’s senior leadership to stop the clashes.
Featured image: Khartoum(airport)-HSSS-KRT