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Ukraine’s SkyUp Aircraft ‘Erupts In Flames’ During Attempted Coup In Sudan; Nearly 20 Planes Destroyed

Maxar Technologies released satellite images on April 17 that display damaged airplanes at the Sudanese airport where the coup attempt occurred. A Boeing 737 from Ukraine’s SkyUp airline is visible among the aircraft charred at the airport.

After days of tension in Khartoum, Sudan faces an ongoing military coup, with clashes between the regular army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

The RSF claimed control of the presidential palace, army commander’s residence, and international airport in the capital. According to witnesses, armored vehicles were seen on the streets, and fighter jets were spotted in the sky.  

As of April 17, The New York Times has reported that 20 aircraft were either severely damaged or destroyed at the airport. 

One damaged aircraft at the airport includes a Boeing 737 belonging to the Ukrainian low-cost airline, SkyUp. The plane caught fire on April 15 during the attempted coup d’état in Sudan. 

The airline ran flights from Sudan to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in early 2023. In a statement, SkyUp said that the emergency locator beacon of the damaged aircraft was activated, and its condition cannot be evaluated at the moment.

SkyUp employees in the country are in a relatively safe location, and the company has been able to establish communication with them.

Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), said that the commander of the Ukrainian Honorary Consulate in Sudan was looking after the crew.

The MFA also denied reports of Ukrainians being taken hostage and advised Ukrainians not to visit Sudan in light of the deteriorating security situation. 

File:UR-SQD CDG (48816302787).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Sky Up Aircraft – Wikimedia Commons

The Ukrainian citizens’ safety in Sudan is closely monitored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ukrainian Embassy in Egypt, Nikolenko said. 

He urged that people present should remain at home and avoid going to regions close to airports, military bases, and the government district.

Growing Crisis In Sudan

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are in combat against Sudanese military units loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Burhan leads Sudan’s transitional governing Sovereign Council.

The RSF leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as Hemedti), is both the deputy head of the Sovereign Council and the leader of the RSF. Initially, there were plans for the RSF to merge with the regular army, given the shared power between the two leaders.

Since the plans for merging the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) with the regular army have fallen apart, the RSF released a video on April 15 claiming to have captured Merowe (also known as Marawi) Air Base. 

The Merowe Air Base also accommodated an unspecified number of Egyptian Air Force MiG-29M/M2 jets. There are reports that one MiG-29M/M2 was lost during the capture of the air base, and more aircraft were probably seriously damaged. 

The destruction of any of the MiG-29M/M2 aircraft is a significant loss for the Egyptian Air Force, given that these planes have modern capabilities and are relatively new. 

A Egyptian MiG-29 : Twitter

In addition, it seems that one of Sudan’s six FTC-2000 light combat aircraft/jet trainers, also newly acquired Chinese-built planes, was destroyed during the attacks.

Meanwhile, a US Embassy convoy was attacked in Sudan, according to a top US official in Washington, who condemned “indiscriminate military operations” as the nation’s armed forces and a potent adversary continued to use heavy weaponry in urban areas.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the attack on the convoy of clearly marked embassy vehicles on Monday was connected by early indications to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group engaged in combat with Sudan’s military.

Blinken reported that all members of the convoy were safe. Blinken has also called for an immediate ceasefire and discussions to restore a civilian-led administration in Sudan.

Antony Blinken/File Image

The attack on the convoy signified a further escalation of the instability and conflict between two opposing generals to control the continent’s third-largest nation.

High-ranking diplomats have asked the two competing generals, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the armed forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, leader of the RSF, to stop fighting.

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