Sudanese security forces kill at least 5 people as protesters defy closure

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Sudanese security forces kill at least 5 people as protesters defy closure


Sudanese security forces killed at least five people on Saturday and injured dozens more when they used tear gas and live ammunition to break up a protest in Khartoum against a military takeover by the government.

Protesters defied the city’s military shutdown to call for a return to civilian rule, as plainclothes snipers reappeared in the streets on Saturday. Coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Friday strengthened his grip on power by swearing in a new ruling council that excluded the main civilian coalition.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in most of the major towns and villages in Sudan, chanting in favor of the civilian regime and denouncing Burhan. The slogans on the banners included “stop the murder – enough is enough”.

“We reject the coup. We want the military to be held responsible for all killings, ”said protester Abdul-Rahman Sharaf-Eldeen, a 31-year-old agricultural engineer. “I don’t think the military should be part of any future government. “

The Sudanese are demonstrating, demanding an end to the military intervention and the transfer of administration to civilians. Photography: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The Sudanese Central Medical Committee said five people were killed in Saturday’s protests, four by gunfire and one from exposure to tear gas. The toll is likely to rise, with many more hospitalized with serious gunshot wounds, and at least one journalist among the injured.

At least 14 other people have been killed in previous protests against the military since it took control late last month. Burhan jailed more than 100 key political leaders and activists, most of them cabinet members, and placed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under house arrest.

The coup has sparked mass protests inside Sudan and criticism from the international community, but the military has ignored them as it consolidates its grip.

The country was in a fragile transition period after a pro-democracy uprising in 2019 that led to the removal from power of autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The military then signed a power-sharing deal with pro-democracy forces, setting up an 11-member sovereign council, but it was dissolved last month.

It has now been replaced by a new council dominated by loyalist military personnel, sworn in on Friday morning. It included the powerful paramilitary leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who was also appointed vice president.

“I am here to reject Burhan’s latest decisions to form a sovereign council. We are not asking him to come back. We want a civilian government, ”said Asjad Ahmed, 20, a student at al-Zaim al-Azhari University, who was protesting near the military headquarters.

In an attempt to stem the protests, the government closed the bridges leading to the city of Khartoum, where the military headquarters and the presidential palace are located, but protesters defied threats of violence to surrender in large numbers.

A Sudanese protester flashes the victory sign. Photograph: EPA

“They are trying to terrorize us by sending all these soldiers, but who cares, we will march,” said Ashraf el-Haj, 43, member of a resistance committee in Omdurman, across the Nile. from Khartoum. “We are fed up with the dictatorship and the silence of our people. “

When the shooting started, security forces banned ambulances from picking up the injured, eyewitnesses said, forcing them to seek treatment in rickshaws. They also beat doctors and arrested them at Eastern Nile Hospital in northern Khartoum.

“Our colleagues were beaten and one was arrested, so we are too busy at the moment, we have been overwhelmed with many victims,” said a doctor from another center, who asked not to be named.

Information Minister Hamza Baloul, who was among those arrested at the time of the coup but has since been released, joined the protesters and urged them not to give up in a video posted online.

“The Sudanese people have decided to create a civilian nation and there is no will stronger than that of the Sudanese people,” he said. There are also demonstrations of solidarity around the world, with hundreds of people in front of Sudanese embassies, including Paris and Berlin.

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