Sudan embassy staff safe after siege: Germany

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that staff at the country’s embassy in Sudan were safe after the building came under siege by protesters on Friday.

“The German embassy in Khartoum is currently the target of attacks by violent demonstrators. The embassy staff are safe. The crisis cell at the foreign ministry (in Berlin) is meeting and is in contact with the embassy,” he said in a statement.

Westerwelle said the Sudanese ambassador to Germany had been summoned to his ministry Friday and “unequivocally reminded of his government’s duty to protect diplomatic missions”.

An AFP reporter in Khartoum said around 5,000 protesters angry over an anti-Islam film on Friday stormed the embassies of Britain and Germany, which was torched and badly damaged.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters as several of them scaled the roof of the German embassy and others attacked its facade and tore down the flag to replace it with a black Islamist one, the reporter said.

The mob, furious over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States that has triggered similar violence in other parts of the Arab world, then set fire to the building.

They blocked the road to prevent the arrival of firefighters, prompting the security forces to fire more tear gas.

It was not immediately clear why the German embassy came under attack, although Islamists frequently deplore the country’s military role in Afghanistan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also inflamed tempers in September 2010 when she spoke out in defence of a Danish cartoonist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb for a turban, first published in 2005, earned him death threats, as he was given an award in Germany.

Demonstrators also attacked the British embassy nearby, as the British Foreign Office said it was monitoring the situation.

Protests over a trailer for the anti-Islam film on YouTube first broke out Tuesday in Egypt and Libya, where the US consulate in Benghazi came under attack by an armed mob which killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

The protests have since spread across other Arab and Muslim countries.

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