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Irish diplomat Aidan O'Hara Aidan O'Hara Twitter
Aidan O'Hara

Irish diplomat was attacked in Sudan during robbery by 'armed men wearing military fatigues'

A European Commission spokesperson was unable to confirm if Monday’s incident was a targeted attack.

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION spokesperson has said Irish diplomat Aidan O’Hara was attacked during an armed robbery at his residence in Sudan on Monday.

Ongoing violence between Sudan’s regular army and paramilitaries has killed at least 270 civilians over the past five days, according to a statement today from embassies in the capital of Khartoum.

The real toll is thought to be far higher, with many wounded unable to reach hospitals.

Foreign diplomats have been attacked, including Aidan O’Hara, who is the European Union’s ambassador to Sudan.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said O’Hara was “not seriously hurt” but that the assault was “a gross violation of obligations to protect diplomats under the Vienna Convention”.

During a press conference today, European Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali said: “We are alarmed by the situation and the security of staff. Our head of delegation (O’Hara) has been assaulted.”

Massrali said O’Hara is “continuing to work fully, we are in touch with him”.

In describing the incident, Massrali said: “Some armed men wearing military fatigues stormed the residence and robbed it.

“They did not identify themselves, but you would understand that I cannot go beyond that for security reasons.”

Dana Spinant, the European Commission’s deputy spokesperson added: “We are very careful with what we say.

“We do not want to endanger our personnel on the ground, operating already in very difficult circumstances.”

When asked if the attack on O’Hara was a targeted incident, Massrali said: “On this question about pillaging or not or targeted attack, all we can say is that this is an unprecedented situation in Sudan.

“There is a lot of confusion reigning there and it is not really the time to surmise what the nature of the attack might be.”

Massrali added that the EU’s High Representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, has “been in touch (with O’Hara) in the beginning on Saturday to discuss with him the situation and to brief with him.”

She said Burrel will be “be speaking also to the whole staff on this issue”.

Massrali described the incident as a “gross validation of the Vienna Convention”, adding: “We are concerned and we are continuing to monitor the situation.

“When it comes to the safety and the evacuation, the security of the staff is our priority.”

Massrali noted that “all other staff are safe and accounted for”, and added: “The EU delegation so far is not evacuated and the security measures are being assessed as we speak.

“For the time being we are not evacuating staff, we are assessing the situation constantly and for security reasons I cannot say any more at this stage.

The European Commission spokesperson also confirmed that the issues will be discussed by Foreign Affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

Meanwhile, Irish charities Concern and Goal have suspended aid activity in Sudan.

A 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire announced by South Sudan failed to take hold at its proposed start at 5pm Irish time yesterday.

Today, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said it would “fully commit to a complete ceasefire”, again from 5pm and for 24 hours.

However, the army has made no comment on such a development.

Concern’s Head of International Programmes, Carol Morgan, said “staff have been ordered to hibernate and Concern’s humanitarian work in Sudan is temporarily suspended”.

Jessica Cope, country director for Goal Sudan, also confirmed that humanitarian programming in Sudan has been suspended until it is safe for staff to resume aid operations.

The United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths also said the UN had received “reports of attacks and sexual violence against aid workers”.

-With additional reporting from AFP

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