India on Monday began to evacuate its citizens from violence-hit Sudan where two military factions are fighting for control. Five hundred Indians have reached Port Sudan and more are on their way, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar wrote in a tweet.

“Operation Kaveri gets underway to bring back our citizens stranded in Sudan,” Jaishankar tweeted. “Our ships and aircraft are set to bring them back home. Committed to assist all our brethren in Sudan.”

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 deputy, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo over a proposed plan to merge the Rapid Support Forces – a powerful paramilitary group – into the national army. Daglo commands the Rapid Support Forces.

Both the armed forces 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 factions have rejected negotiations. The violence has killed at least 420 people and injured more than 3,700, according to the World Health Organisation.

On Sunday, India had said that it had 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.

The External Affairs Ministry had said that it was in touch with the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and the United States about the violence in Sudan, besides the Indian embassy in Khartoum and Sudanese officials.

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

Explainer: Why Sudan’s army is fighting its paramilitary forces