Deaths as Sudan troops clear protest camp in assault
The military’s move follows a stand-off with protesters seeking a speedy transition to civilian rule after strongman leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted.
Sudanese security forces have attacked a protest camp in the capital Khartoum, killing at least 13 people, witnesses and protest leaders said.
In videos posted online amid the early-morning assault, civilians were seen running through streets lined with sit-in tents, heads down, as the sound of gunfire filled the air. Smoke rose from the area.
“Wounded people are lying on the ground the reception area as there are not enough beds,” said Azza al-Kamel, a doctor at the Royal Care hospital near the sprawling sit-in area outside the military headquarters in the capital.
The Sudan Doctors’ Committee said at least 13 people were killed and more than 200 wounded, many by gunfire.
By midday, security forces controlled almost the entire camp, pushing out protesters and sealing off the area, two protesters said.
“We are out and cannot get in,” said Hisham Shalbi, a protest leader. They said only a few small pockets of protesters in the area remain.
The camp has been the epicentre of a protest movement that first succeeded in forcing the overthrow of Sudan’s long-time strongman Omar al-Bashir in April.
After the military removed Mr al-Bashir and seized power, tens of thousands of protesters remained in the camp and other protest sites, saying an end to his 30-year rule was not enough and demanding a speedy transition to civilian rule.
Protest leaders and military officials have been negotiating over the make-up of a transitional government, as protesters call for “limited military representation” in a sovereign council that would lead the country as it transitions to civilian rule over three years.
Both sides are split over the make-up and leadership of the council, with the ruling generals refusing to relinquish power.
Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi, a spokesman for the ruling military council, said in televised remarks that the military was targeting an area near the sit-in site, considered problematic by the authorities because of alleged criminal activity.
He said people from that area moved to the main protest site, leading to clashes. He did not say if the military’s goal was to break up the entire sit-in camp.
Protest leaders urged supporters to rush to the site, and called for civil disobedience. The embassies of the United States and Britain expressed concern about reported attacks on civilians.