Sudanese forces storm protest camp, more than 30 people killed -medics

Sudanese protesters use burning tires to erect a barricade on a street, demanding that the country’s Transitional Military Council hand over power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2019

Sudanese forces storm protest camp, more than 30 people killed -medics

  • More than 30 people were reported killed in the worst violence since Bashir's overthrow
  • Protest leaders said the military is trying to break up the protest site

KHARTOUM: Security forces stormed a protest camp in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Monday and opposition-linked medics said more than 30 people were killed in the worst violence since the overthrow of President Omar Al-Bashir in April.
Footage shared on social media and verified by Reuters showed chaotic scenes of people fleeing through streets as sustained bursts of gunfire crackled in the air during violence that drew rapid Western and African censure.
Witnesses said a sit-in next to the Defense Ministry, the focal point of anti-government protests that started in December, had been cleared. Protesters poured onto streets elsewhere in Khartoum and beyond in response, setting up barricades and roadblocks with rocks and burning tires.
A group of doctors linked to the opposition said 30 people had been “martyred” in Monday’s violence, with the toll expected to rise because not all casualties had been accounted for. The group had earlier said at least 116 people were wounded.
The main protest group accused the ruling military council of perpetrating “a massacre” as it broke up the camp.
The Transitional Military Council (TMC) denied that, with a spokesman, Lt. Gen. Shams El Din Kabbashi, telling Reuters security forces were pursuing “unruly elements” who had fled to the protest site and caused chaos.
“The Transitional Military Council regrets the way the situation unfolded, reaffirming its full commitment to the ... safety of the citizens and renews its call for negotiations as soon as possible,” the council later said in a statement.
Monday’s violence is likely to deal a blow to hopes for a restart to stalled talks and a negotiated settlement over who should govern in a transitional period after Bashir’s overthrow.
Sudan’s public prosecutor on Monday ordered an investigation into the violence, state news agency SUNA said.
TALKS HALTED
An alliance of protest and opposition groups that had been negotiating with the military for weeks said it was halting all contact with the council.
The TMC had offered to let protesters form a government but insisted on maintaining overall authority during an interim period. Demonstrators want civilians to run the transitional period and lead Sudan’s 40 million people to democracy.
The protest-linked doctors group said security forces had surrounded one Khartoum hospital and had opened fire at another where they were pursuing protesters.
“The protesters holding a sit-in in front of the army general command are facing a massacre in a treacherous attempt to disperse the protest,” said protests organizer the Sudanese Professionals Association.
The United Nations, African Union and European Union expressed deep concern, some explicitly blaming the military.
“What is clear to us is that there was use of excessive force by the security forces on civilians,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Britain’s ambassador Irfan Siddiq said he heard gunfire for more than an hour from his residence. “No excuse for any such attack. This. Must. Stop. Now,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Responsibility falls on the TMC. The TMC cannot responsibly lead the people of Sudan,” added the US Embassy.
The European Union urged a speedy transfer of power to civilians, while the African Union called for an immediate investigation, and Amnesty International urged sanctions on those officials responsible.
Neighbouring Egypt called for “calm and restraint,” while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it hoped that dialogue would prevail in Sudan.
“The regional experience has taught us that the orderly and conservative transition of the state and its institutions is the only way to avoid years of chaos and loss,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
SMOKE AND STONES
Television footage showed black smoke rising from tents, apparently torched by the raiding force.
Internet users reported connection problems.
As protests unfurled, demonstrators in Khartoum hurled stones at security forces, who charged amid sounds of intense gunfire. One video posted on social media showed a protester collapse to the ground, crying in pain after being hit by what appeared to be live fire.
A Reuters witness saw troops wielding batons, including riot police and members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), deploy in central Khartoum and close roads, apparently to try to block people from reaching the protest site.
The military’s role in ousting Bashir has raised fears among many Sudanese that their country could follow a similar path to neighboring Egypt after its 2011 uprising.
There, a military council oversaw a turbulent and sometimes violent transition before army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi led the overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi. El-Sisi was elected president in 2014 and again in 2018 with 97 percent of the vote.


Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

Updated 25 February 2020

Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

  • Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raid

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed March 5 summit with Russia, France and Germany on the conflict in Syria’s Idlib, but he may meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date.
Syrian government forces are pushing to retake the last large rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war and nearly a million Syrians, mostly women and children, have been displaced by the fighting since early December.
At a news conference in Ankara before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan, Erdogan said that a Russian delegation was set to come to Turkey on Wednesday to discuss the Idlib situation.
“There is no full agreement yet between (French President Emmanuel) Macron ... (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, and Putin,” he said. Macron and Merkel have both urged Putin to end the conflict, concerned about the humanitarian situation.
On Saturday, Erdogan said that Turkey had set out a “road map” for Syria after calls with the three leaders, while the Kremlin has said it was discussing the possibility of holding a four-way summit.
Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raids and 17 members of the Turkish forces have been killed. Turkey already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot handle another wave and has closed its borders.