Sudan rejects addition of Marines at US Embassy

Smoke billows from the US embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Friday during a protest against an amateur film mocking Islam.
Smoke billows from the US embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Friday during a protest against an amateur film mocking Islam.
AFP - Getty Images

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET:KHARTOUM – Sudan has rejected a U.S. request to send a platoon of Marines to bolster security at the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum, the state news agency SUNA said on Saturday.

The U.S. ordered all family members and non-emergency personnel out of Khartoum as well as Tunis, Tunisia, posts, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Saturday afternoon. The State Department also issued travel warnings to U.S. citizens in both countries.

Earlier Saturday, a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to disclose details on the troop movement, said Sudan’s objection held up the deployment of 50 Marines. A U.S. official said the Marines had already set off for Khartoum but had been called back pending further discussions with Sudan.

Nuland earlier Saturday didn’t speak about the Marines but acknowledged Sudan had “recommitted itself both publicly and privately to continue to protect our Mission, as it is obligated to do under the Vienna Convention.”

“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure we have what we need to protect our people and facility,” Nuland said.

On Friday, around 5,000 people protested against a film that insults the Prophet Muhammad, storming the German embassy before breaking into the U.S. mission.

They also attacked the British embassy. At least two people were killed in clashes with police, according to state media.

In Tunis, four people were killed and 46 were wounded, the Tunisian government said, after police gunfire near the U.S. Embassy in the North African city that was the model for last year’s pro-democracy revolutions.

Police fought hundreds of protesters who smashed windows, hurled petrol bombs and stones at police from inside, and started fires in the embassy and to a gym and a neighboring American school. A Reuters reporter saw police open fire on protesters forcing their way into the embassy building.

A U.S. official told Reuters on Friday that Washington would send Marines to Sudan to improve security at the embassy located outside Khartoum.


“Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told SUNA.

Sudan beefed up security at some missions on Saturday. A riot police truck was parked in front of the deserted German embassy, which protesters had set on fire on Friday. An Islamic flag raised by the crowd was still flying. Three officers manned the main gate.

More than 20 police officers were sitting in front of the U.S. Embassy.

The film, which depicts Muhammad as a womanizer and charlatan, was made in the United States, and Muslim outrage has led to crowds assaulting U.S. diplomatic missions in a number of Arab countries.

Sudan has also criticized Germany for allowing a protest last month by right-wing activists carrying caricatures of Muhammad, and for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s award in 2010 to a Danish cartoonist who had depicted the prophet, triggering unrest across the Islamic world.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been under pressure from Islamists who feel the government has given up the religious values of his 1989 Islamist coup.

The Sudanese government had called for protests against the film, but peaceful ones. President Barack Obama’s administration said it had nothing to do with the movie, which is little more than an amateurish video clip and appears to have been made in California.

This article includes reporting by NBC News’ Catherine Chomiak, Reuters and The Associated Press.

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Sudan rejects addition of Marines at US Embassy