India has put two heavy-lift Air Force aircraft on standby in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah as part of the government’s plans to evacuate stranded citizens from violence-hit Sudan, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Sunday.

An Indian Navy ship has also reached a key port in Sudan, foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement. While the contingency plans for the evacuation of Indians have been put in place, any movement on the ground would depend on the security situation, he added.

The foreign ministry said that the situation in Sudan continues to be volatile with reports of “fierce fighting” in various locations in the country’s capital Khartoum.

The violence in the North African nation started on April 15 after weeks of rising tensions between military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his number two, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo on a plan to integrate the Rapid Support Forces into the national army.

Both the armed bodies have been vying for supremacy since they worked together to overthrow Sudan’s long-term authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The military later agreed to share power with civilians but the rivalry between the two men has twice led to postponement of the signing of an agreement with civilian factions.

Multiple ceasefires have failed to take effect and both the factions have rejected negotiations. On Friday, the World Health Organization had said that the violence has killed at least 413 people and injured more than 3,550.

Besides the authorities in Sudan, the foreign ministry and the Indian embassy in Sudan are in touch with the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and the United States about the violence, according to the statement issued on Sunday.

“Our embassy is in regular touch with the stranded Indians in Sudan and is advising them on the viability of safe movement and the need to avoid unnecessary risk,” the foreign ministry added. “It is also coordinating all possible assistance including possible exit from Khartoum as and when the security situation permits safe movement.”

The ministry stated that the Sudanese airspace is currently closed for all foreign aircraft and overland movement also has risks as well as logistical challenges.

On Saturday, Indians were among the 66 foreign citizens who were evacuated by the Saudi Arabian authorities from the battle-scarred country.

Several countries have evacuated citizens and diplomats from the capital as the fighting continues.

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