US Embassy Sudan: On Ordered Departure, No FAST Team for Now

Protestors in Khartoum targetted the U.S., British and German embassies after Friday prayer last week. Time.com reports that since it was Friday, the weekend in the region, Western embassy staff were not on their compounds.  The report adds that while initial reports suggested that there was a widespread breach of the U.S. embassy perimeter, this was not the case. “Some U.S. government property was damaged. But U.S. officials maintained control of the embassy compound and accounted for all mission personnel.”

The Sudan Tribune reports that over 5,000 protesters moved to the well protected US embassy compound located some 20 kilometers south east of Khartoum. The report also says that 250 police officers posted there were able to contain the protesters at a security perimeter, 150 meters from the main gate of the embassy for some time.  Two protestors were reportedly killed while 50 policemen were wounded.

Also on Friday, September 14, DOD says that a Marine Corps fleet antiterrorism security team, called a “FAST team” arrived on the ground in Yemen to help with security at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.  Another one is reportedly scheduled to arrive in Khartoum.  This is the second and third FAST team, consisting of about 50 Marines (the first FAST team went to Libya) authorized by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to bolster security at U.S. diplomatic installations in the past two days.   The move comes a day after protesters also  attacked the U.S. Embassies in Sana’a and Khartoum.

On September 15, Al Jazeera reports that Yemen and Sudan have rejected US plans to have marines protect the American diplomaticfacilities, after a wave of violent protests targeting western embassies.

The Sudan Tribune citing the country’s official news agency SUNA says that Foreign minister Ali Karti “has declined to authorise the deployment of these forces affirming Sudan’s ability to protect foreign diplomatic missions in Khartoum and reiterated the State’s obligation to protect its guests members of diplomatic missions.”  Apparently, the Marines had already set off for Khartoum but had been called back pending further discussions with Sudan.

Meanwhile, on September 15, the US Embassy in Khartoum issued a U.S. Embassy Emergency Message alerting U.S. citizens that on September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The airport in Khartoum is reportedly open and commercial service is available. The Embassy also closed all Consular Services until further notice.

Also yesterday, the State Department updated its The Travel Warning:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan, urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States, and advises you to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.  On September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning issued on September 7, 2012.

While the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan. These measures include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles for official business, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Khartoum. In addition, family members under age 21 of U.S. Embassy personnel are not allowed to reside in Sudan.

Read in full here.

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