28 April 2023
A Malaysian living in Sudan for the past three years had never thought that there would be a time when staying put or walking about 800m to safety would risk death.
Speaking to the New Straits Times after arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Innaci Dass recounted the moments when he first heard gunshots and bombings on April 15.
He said he stayed put in his house for six days after the clashes began between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). He maintained constant communication with his family and the Malaysian Embassy in Sudan.
“My apartment is facing the Nile River, where the Presidential Palace, the army headquarters and the airport were just opposite the river. So, when the clashes began, my apartment complex was compromised.
“I was alone in my apartment and stuck. I can’t go out, so I stayed in for six days, including four days without electricity. It was horrible due to the continuous bombings and shootings, which were loud and people received updates from the news.
“And then I learnt that an Indian citizen, who lived in my apartment complex, was killed on the second day of the conflict. He was talking to his son on the balcony when a stray bullet hit him, and there was no ambulance to take him to the hospital then.
“His death did not sit well with other residents, and the fear grew when we went to the maintenance office and saw the bullet holes,” he said.
Dass was one of the 30 Malaysians rescued from Khartoum, Sudan. He was the head of Human Resources for the Rida Group’s Sudan office.
He said during the critical hours, the Malaysian embassy worked fast to contact and plan for his rescue, requiring him to travel about 45 minutes from his apartment to the Malaysia House.
He said the embassy had also advised him to stay indoors, not peek outside his apartment, and to steer clear of the windows.
“The embassy had told me that they could not risk their staff to come and get me at my apartment, as the journey took 45 minutes one way. It was risky. At the time of the clashes, there was only one road available between my place and the Malaysia House.
“So the embassy hired a local driver willing to fetch me, but he could not pick me up at my place. So we met at a petrol station, 800m from my apartment. That was the nearest option I had at that time. Having to make that 800m walk was scary.
“But I knew if I had stayed in my apartment, I might get shot, the whole building could collapse from the bombs, or if I walked (to the rendezvous point), I would get hit.
“So these are the things that I considered before deciding to make that walk. With God’s help, I reached the petrol station and saw the man, and we took the back road to the embassy’s house.”
He said reuniting with fellow Malaysians felt like home, especially when there was a small-scale Hari Raya celebration on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
However, he said, there were nights when the sounds of bombing and gunshots haunted him before boarding the aircraft from Jeddah to Malaysia.
Student Abdul Rahman Mohd Nuh, 25, said he only managed to contact his family when he reached Jeddah with the rest of the group.
He said there was no warning before the clashes. However, soldiers roamed the roads near his university in Jabra, Khartoum.
“We were wondering why there was an army present on the streets. And the next thing we know, there were bombs and gunshots fired the next day.
“When I heard the sound, all I could think about was, ‘If I died, I would die of syahid’.
“However, I felt relieved to have been rescued and got to see my family, here today. My family has been waiting for me, and I am finally home.”
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