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Second American dead in Sudan, White House National Security Council spox John Kirby confirms

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday confirmed the death of a second American citizen in Sudan. 

On a virtual call with press, Kirby told reporters the unnamed American died on Tuesday. 

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family,” he said. “We continue to make clear at the highest levels of our government the leadership of both the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces that they are responsible for ensuring the protection of civilians and noncombatants, including people from third countries and humanitarian staff that are working to save lives.” 

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John Kirby press conference

John Kirby, national security council coordinator, speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 2, 2022. On Wednesday, he told reporters a second American died in Sudan.  (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Kirby also pointed to the U.S.-brokered ceasefire that started at midnight on April 24. 

“Although there are some reports of violence and sporadic shelling and firing, we’re glad to see that the levels of violence generally appear to have gone significantly down,” he said. “We urge both military factions to fully uphold the ceasefire and to further extend it. 

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“We’ve said this many, many times that the violence is simply unconscionable and it must stop. We’ve got to do what’s right for the Sudanese people,” Kirby continued. “They want a return to peace and security in Khartoum and around the country, and they want to see a transition to civilian authority. And we need to keep working at that.” 

Sudan rubble after fighting

A scene after recent fighting in Khartoum, Sudan, April 25, 2023. Sudan’s warring generals have pledged to observe a new three-day truce brokered by the U.S. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

Kirby pointed to remarks from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who indicated President Biden “has asked for every conceivable option to help as many Americans as possible that effort will continue, and we are actively facilitating the departure of a relatively small number of Americans who have indicated to us that they want to leave.”

“We continue to deploy U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, unmanned assets to support land evacuation routes, which Americans are using, and we’re still moving naval assets within the region to provide support along the coast and off of Port Sudan,” Kirby said. “American citizens are arriving in Port Sudan, and we are helping to facilitate their onward travel as appropriate.” 

At least 459 people, including civilians and fighters, have been killed, and over 4,000 wounded since fighting began, the U.N. health agency said, citing Sudan’s Health Ministry. The Doctors’ Syndicate which tracks civilian casualties, said at least 295 civilians were killed and 1,790 others injured. 

US evacuees from Sudan

In this photo from the U.S. Navy, personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Sudan embrace as they evacuate to Camp Lemonnier on April 23, 2023 in Djibouti.  (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Maria A. Olvera Tristán /U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

The 72-hour cease-fire announced by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to last until late Thursday night. Many fear that fighting will only escalate once evacuations of foreigners, which appeared to be in their last stages, are completed. A series of short cease-fires the past week have either failed outright or brought only intermittent lulls that allowed evacuations of hundreds of foreigners by air and land. The two rival generals, army chief Abdel Fattah Burhan and RSF commander Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have so far ignored calls for negotiations.

Kirby said Wednesday the U.S. remained focused on getting the ceasefire extended for a “meaningful period of time” and eventually get the fighting factions to “start to talk about a transition to civilian authority,” noting the more immediate needs of the Sudanese people and foreign nationals that are in and around Khartoum. 

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“I just want to stress that we’ve suspended operations at the embassy, but we have not dismantled our diplomatic relations or the mechanisms to conduct diplomatic relations with Sudan. We’re simply moving the embassy personnel out of the country. But we still have an ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, and he’s done a great job, and he’s going to continue to do his duties from outside the country,” Kirby said. “It’s not unlike what we had to do in Ukraine when we’ve evacuated the embassy temporarily and in the early weeks and months of the fighting and then put them back in, we fully intend to get that embassy back up and running, get those personnel back on the ground in Khartoum so that we can continue to look after the long term relationship and then the long term needs of the Sudanese people. That is that that is absolutely not something we’re going to forget about.  

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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