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U.S. DIPLOMATS, GUARDS ORDERED OUT OF SUDAN

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The State Department has ordered American diplomats and guards to leave Sudan out of concern for their safety, but an office is to be set up in a neighboring country to maintain contacts.

The decision was made Wednesday on the advice of the U.S. ambassador, Timothy Carney. Some 30 Americans will be evacuated via commercial airlines, said a U.S. official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.The evacuation was ordered the same day the U.N. Security Council demanded that Sudan extradite three suspects in the attempted assassination of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Ethiopia in June.

Egypt, a U.S. ally, says the attack was carried out by Egyptian extremists operating with help from the Islamic regime in Khartoum; Sudan denies involvement in terror operations.

Relations between the United States and Sudan have been tense since Lt. Gen. Omar el-Bashir took power in 1989 in a coup and installed an Islamic regime. Financial aid has all but ended, except for emergency relief supplies.

The State Department said operations in Sudan were being suspended for security reasons.

Despite Sudanese assurances, "there are abiding concerns about movements and activities of terrorist groups operating in Sudan," the State Department statement said.

The statement did not give specifics, but U.S. diplomats in Khartoum have said in the past that Sudan has helped such groups as the Islamic Group, active in Egypt; Hezbollah, active in Lebanon; and Islamic fundamentalists opposed to the governments in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The State Department stressed that the United States was not breaking relations and said Washington intends to set up an office in the region to maintain contacts with Khartoum.

There was no official response from the Sudanese government to the American announcement.

The U.S. evacuation would be the third from Sudan in 10 years.

In August 1993, the U.S. Embassy staff was cut and families were sent out after the State Department added Sudan to a list of countries that it contends sponsor terrorism.

In April 1986, the United States evacuated 200 dependents and non-essential diplomatic personnel, fearing possible Libyan-backed violence against them following U.S. bombing attacks on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and port of Benghazi.

Shortly before the 1986 evacuation, an embassy communications officer was shot and seriously wounded as he drove home in Khartoum.

U.S. diplomats in the past have been evacuated to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.