American Killed in Sudan Conflict, State Department Says

Smoke rises from burning aircraft inside Khartoum Airport, Sudan / Reuters
April 21, 2023

At least one U.S. citizen has died in the conflict that has overtaken Sudan, the State Department said Friday.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel in a statement to NBC News confirmed the American's death, though the spokesman would not disclose the victim's name, sex, hometown, or any other details.

A power struggle between the Sudanese military and a paramilitary force has thrown the northeast African country into chaos, resulting in the deaths of more than 330 people and forcing the State Department to order Americans to stay in place. An estimated 16,000 Americans are on the ground, NBC reported.

Because of the closure of both Sudan's airport and border with Chad, "it's not safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated [evacuation] of private American citizens at this time," Patel told journalists on Thursday. "But we're continuing to monitor the situation closely. We're monitoring it from here, monitoring it with our team in Khartoum."

A U.S. official said Thursday that the Defense Department is preparing to send a large number of troops into the region in case an evacuation becomes necessary.

The Pentagon has not yet made a final decision on sending troops, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the same day that the Biden administration has not yet decided whether to evacuate diplomats.

U.S. diplomatic efforts in Africa have focused on Sudan, Reuters noted, with Washington working to "counter Russian influence in the country and the wider region."

If the United States does evacuate Americans, including diplomats at the U.S. embassy, it will raise memories of the Biden administration's botched Afghanistan withdrawal, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and threw Afghanistan back into the hands of the Taliban.