Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Sudan crackdown worsens with reports bodies dumped in river, internet cut

Sudanese protesters are seen near burning tyres used to erect a barricade on a street demanding that the country's Transitional Military Council handover power to civilians in Khartoum Sudan Government Lost Legitimacy By Sending Janjaweed Militia Against Protesters REUTERS STRINGER
Patty Aguilar | 06 June, 2019, 08:54

One activist, Amal al-Zein, said the number could be even higher.

They said 40 bodies were pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on Tuesday.

"Some bodies have wounds from bullets, others seemed to have beaten and thrown in the Nile", she said.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the military's crackdown reached 100 on Wednesday, organisers said.

That came after another 10 people were killed on Tuesday, including five in the White Nile state, three in Omdurman and two in Khartoum's Bahri neighborhood. It is not clear if these casualties are included in the 60 people killed.

The previously reported death toll stood at 40.

The Rapid Support Forces, paramilitaries with origins in the 16-year-old war in the western region of Darfur, are thought to have been largely behind the crackdown.

"In Buri, there were lots of shootings and tear gas", said Hashim al-Sudani, an activist.

With batons in hand, Sudanese forces in police and military uniforms surrounded the protesters and began forcing them to leave.

The crackdown has turned a tense but relatively peaceful standoff between the military and the protest movement over the country's future into a bloody confrontation that threatens to escalate.

Sudan has been controlled by a military council since pro-democracy protests led to the ousting of veteran President Omar al-Bashir in April, after 30 years of authoritarian rule. The military council then took power and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

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After Monday's crackdown, protest leaders suspended negotiations.

In this frame grab from video provided by Sudan TV, Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the Sudanese Transitional Military Council, TMC, makes a statement the day after a pro-democracy sit-in outside the army command base in the capital Khartoum was violently overrun by the ruling army.

On Wednesday, however, Burhan abruptly announced that the generals were prepared to resume negotiations with "no restrictions".

"We welcome the statement by TMC head Burhan on the establishment of a technocratic government to govern the country during the transitional period and the holding of general elections in Sudan in nine months", the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Moscow is against external pressure on Sudan. The motives for the general's apparent reversal - if honest - were not immediately clear. But the offer could cause divisions within the protest movement, where some factions may be open to returning to the table.

Sudanese opposition activists have rejected an offer of talks from the country's military council, saying it can not be trusted amid a violent crackdown on protesters. "Any person who crossed boundaries has to be punished", he said.

"We in the military council, extend our hands to negotiations without shackles except the interests of the homeland", Burhan said.

"This call is not serious", association spokesman Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa told The Associated Press.

A Sudanese official has denied that at least 100 people were killed by a paramilitary unit during protests, saying that the number was at most 46.

Sudanese men and a child headed to a mosque navigate a roadblock set by protesters on a main street in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to stop military vehicles from driving through the area.

But opposition groups said the conciliatory statements were belied by continuing violence in Khartoum and said they would "continue our protests and resistance".

Protest leaders have called on their supporters to take part in "total civil disobedience" to topple the military council.

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