A Saudia’s Airbus A330 plane among other commercial aircrafts got heavily damaged in clashes that started Saturday between the Sudan’s army and powerful paramilitary. Social media videos reveal the damage to a couple of planes, parked at the Khartoum International Airport in the Sudanese capital. One of the planes is confirmed to be of Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s national airline. In a statement, Saudia said one of its Airbus A330s was involved in “an accident” after video showed it on fire on the tarmac at Khartoum International Airport amid the fighting.
Saudia said in a statement Saturday that all its flights were suspended after the incident. It did not elaborate on the cause of the “accident”, though it appeared the aircraft got caught in the crossfire of the Rapid Support Forces and Sudanese soldiers fighting around the airfield, reported PTI. Another plane also appeared to have caught fire in the attack.
Several aircraft damaged including a Saudia A330 at Khartoum Airport as Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces takes control of the airport after days of tension in the country. pic.twitter.com/sVG3nT8VPp— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) April 15, 2023
As per flight tracking website FlightRadar24, the other plane is identified as a SkyUp Airlines 737, which is a Ukraine-based airline. Other commercial aircraft trying to land at the airport began turning around to head back to their originating airport, stated PTI.
The fighting comes after months of escalating tensions between the generals and years of political unrest following an October 2021 military coup. Two civilians were also killed at the country’s airport, said the Sudan Doctors’ Committee. The statement did not specify how the two people had died at the airport, which was a flashpoint in the recent violence, with the two forces battling to control it.
— Media Center | Saudi Arabia (@svmedia_center) April 15, 2023
In a series of statements, the Rapid Support Forces militia accused the army of attacking its forces at one of its bases in south Khartoum. They claimed they seized the city’s airport and “completely controlled” Khartoum’s Republican Palace, the seat of the country’s presidency. The group also said it seized an airport and air base in the northern city of Merowe some 350 kilometers (215 miles) northwest of Khartoum.
Sudan has been marred in turmoil since October 2021, when a coup overthrew a Western-backed government, dashing Sudanese aspirations for democratic rule after three decades of autocracy and repression under Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir.