Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

Police fire tear gas at Khartoum protesters; rally in Darfur region

Sudanese protesters attend an anti-government demonstration in the capital Khartoum Sudanese protesters attend an anti-government demonstration in the capital Khartoum
Patty Aguilar | 14 January, 2019, 05:46

Reuters witnesses said security forces used tear gas against dozens of demonstrators in Al-Halfaya Bahri in southern Khartoum and against a separate demonstration by dozens of people who had emerged from Sayyed Abdel-Rahman Mosque in Omdurman, on the other side of River Nile to the capital.

Protests also broke out Sunday in the western war-torn region of Darfur, after calls for rallies there by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which has spearheaded the demonstrations.

Sudanese police fired tear gas Sunday at crowds of anti-government protesters in Khartoum after organizers called for nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir. A constitutional amendment proposed this month would allow him to retain his position past the end of his term in 2020.

Sudan's own human rights body has condemned the killing "by bullets" of protesters, but stopped short of saying who fired the deadly rounds.

At least 22 people, including two security personnel, have been killed during the protests and hundreds wounded, officials say. The authenticity of the recording could not immediately be verified. The rest were killed in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman and regions north and northeast of the capital.

"Patients and doctors in Omdurman Hospital were attacked with tear gas and live bullets as Sudanese security forces ramped up their mission to suppress peaceful protests", Sarah Jackson, Amnesty's deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said on Thursday.

The commission said it was "calling upon the government to investigate this and bring the criminals to court".

Human Rights Watch also said that at least 40 people, including children, have been killed in the protests, citing Sudanese activists and medical workers.

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Hours after police dispersed the rally in Bahari on Sunday, the smell of tear gas lingered across the neighbourhood, witnesses said.

"We look with great regret at the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians...", it said.

Protests that first erupted on 19 December over a government decision to triple the price of bread have swiftly escalated into nationwide rallies, widely seen as the biggest threat to Bashir's three-decade rule.

Although the immediate trigger for the protests was the increase in the price of bread, Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year, partially caused by an acute shortage of foreign currency.

Washington imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017.

Sudan's economy was crippled when the south seceded in 2011, taking away much of its oil resources.

But critics of Mr Bashir say his government's mismanagement of key sectors and its huge spending on fighting ethnic minority rebellions in Darfur and areas near the South Sudan border have been stoking economic trouble for years.

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