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Window to safely airlift people from Sudan closing quickly, Canadian officials say

One of Turkey’s planes was shot from the ground as it left Khartoum this morning
Defence Minister Anita Anand arrives at a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, April 25, 2023 in Ottawa. Anand says Canadian evacuation flights in Sudan have been hampered by a mechanical issue in one military plane. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command says the window is closing quickly to safely airlift people out of Sudan amid fighting between the country’s military and paramilitary forces.

Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie says it’s believed a Turkish crew member was injured when one of Turkey’s planes was shot from the ground as it left Khartoum this morning — though it’s not clear which side was responsible.

He says that event changed the threat assessment this morning and led to the cancellation of a planned Canadian evacuation flight.

A second flight that Canada had planned for this morning was cancelled due to a mechanical issue with the plane’s ramp.

But Auchterlonie says the two Hercules planes the Canadian military has deployed to the region are now on the way to Khartoum, where Canadians are waiting for rescue.

A senior official from Global Affairs Canada says the government is very confident that enough flights are planned over the next couple of days to ensure that everyone who has asked to leave Sudan is able to get on a plane.

About 300 Canadians have already been flown to safe third countries, including with the help of allies, amid a significant uptick in violence over the past two weeks.

READ MORE: First Canadian evacuation flight from Sudan has departed: Anand