Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest in June

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Sudanese head of the probe committee Fath Al-Rahman Saeed, center, briefs the media about the killing of demonstrators in Khartoum on Saturday. (AFP)
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Sudanese protesters demonstrate in Khartoum on July 25, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Sudan says 87 killed when security forces broke up protest in June

  • 17 of those killed were in the square occupied by protesters
  • Some security forces fired at protesters and three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in

KHARTOUM: The head of a Sudanese investigation into the violent break up of a protest by security forces said on Saturday that 87 people were killed and 168 wounded in the June 3 incident in Khartoum, citing a higher death toll than previous official estimates.
Fath Al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said some members of the security forces fired live ammunition at protesters who were holding a sit-in to demand the military cede power.
He told a news conference that three officers had violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defense Ministry, a focal point for protests that had led to the ouster of long-time President Omar Al-Bashir on April 11.
Saeed said 17 of those killed were in the square occupied by protesters in the worst bout of violence since Bashir was toppled, adding that 48 of the wounded were hit by bullets.
An order was also issued to whip protesters, he added.
The Health Ministry had previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics have said 127 people were killed and 400 wounded in the dispersal.
“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.
“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area,” he said.
There was no immediate reaction to his comments from the opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change, which is negotiating with the ruling military council to finalize an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.
The committee found that some members of the joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square ... and fired heavily and randomly,” leading to the killing and wounding of some protesters.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Protest in Khartoum demanded end to military rule.

• Health Ministry previously said 61 killed.

• Opposition say 127 people died in security assault.

Saeed gave the ranks and initials of eight officers he said had been charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give their full names.
A brigadier general, referred to only as A. A. M., mobilized a riot force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.
Saeed said the committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although the US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped.
It was not possible for Reuters to independently verify the reports of rape. Activists say Sudanese women are reluctant to publicly say they were raped to avoid any social sigma.
Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.


Initial investigations point to negligence as cause of Beirut blast

Updated 5 min 21 sec ago

Initial investigations point to negligence as cause of Beirut blast

BEIRUT: Initial investigations indicate years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material in Beirut port caused the blast that killed over 100 people on Tuesday, an official source familiar with the findings said.
The prime minister and presidency said on Tuesday that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.
"It is negligence," the official source told Reuters, adding that the storage safety issue had been before several committees and judges and "nothing was done" to issue an order to remove or dispose of the highly combustible material.
The source said a fire had started at warehouse 9 of the port and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored.
Tuesday's explosion was the most powerful ever suffered by Beirut, a city is still scarred by civil war three decades ago and reeling from a deep financial crisis rooted in decades of corruption and economic mismanagement.
Badri Daher, Director General of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI on Wednesday that customs had sent six documents to the judiciary warning that the material posed a danger.
"We requested that it be re-exported but that did not happen. We leave it to the experts and those concerned to determine why," Daher said.
Another source close to a port employee said a team that inspected the ammonium nitrate six months ago warned that if it was not moved it would "blow up all of Beirut".
According to two documents seen by Reuters, Lebanese Customs had asked the judiciary in 2016 and 2017 to ask the "concerned maritime agency" to re-export or approve the sale of the ammonium nitrate, removed from the a cargo vessel, Rhosus, and deposited in warehouse 12, to ensure port safety.
One of the documents cited similar requests in 2014 and 2015.
"A local and international investigation needs to be conducted into the incident, given the scale and the circumstances under which these goods were brought into the ports," said Ghassan Hasbani, former deputy prime minister and a member of the Lebanese Forces party.
Shiparrested.com, an industry network dealing with legal cases, had said in a 2015 report that the Rhosus, sailing under a Moldovan flag, docked in Beirut in September 2013 when it had technical problems while sailing from Georgia to Mozambique with 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
It said that, upon inspection, the vessel was forbidden from sailing and shortly afterwards it was abandoned by its owners, leading to various creditors coming forward with legal claims.
"Owing to the risks associated with retaining the ammonium nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities discharged the cargo onto the port's warehouses," it added.