AL-OBEID/SUDAN: Hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of a central Sudanese city on Wednesday, denouncing the killing of six demonstrators there including schoolchildren at a rally this week.
“Blood for blood, we don’t want compensation,” chanted men and women as they marched in Al-Obeid where the killings took place on Monday.
Many carried Sudanese flags and some held photographs of those killed as they gathered in the downtown area, after marching through several parts of the city, an AFP correspondent reported.
“It is unacceptable that young people are being killed,” said protester Fatima Mohamed as behind her crowds chanted revolutionary slogans that have rocked the country for months.
“These schoolchildren were chanting only slogans. Why were they shot with bullets?”
“Those who committed these crimes must be brought to justice,” she said.
Tragedy struck the city on Monday when six people, including five secondary school pupils, were shot dead at a rally against a growing shortage of bread and fuel in the city. It was a sudden tripling of the price of bread in December that sparked the mushrooming protests that led to the toppling of longtime president Omar Al-Bashir by the army in April.
Al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan state some 350 km southwest of Khartoum, remained largely quiet during the long months of demonstrations.
For much of his three decades in power, Bashir was able to look to Al-Obeid for support but the city drew scant reward in terms of investment. Many of its roads remain unpaved and heavy rains this week left huge pools of water for want of drainage.
In the downtown area, many houses are built of cement. In poorer neighborhoods, mudbrick is still widespread.
“There has been no electricity in our house since this morning,” said Babikir Awad, sitting on a chair in front of his single-story home in the city center.
“We have been suffering for months, but the situation has escalated in the past two weeks.”
Frequent power cuts are the biggest complaint.
“The main problem is that there is no steady supply of electricity,” said bakery owner Mohamed Al-Hassan.
“Having your own generator means increasing your costs and in turn exposing yourself to losses.”
Residents are angry that the authorities have failed to resolve the bread shortage.
“The city has witnessed a complete deterioration in services,” said Shadiya Othman.
“This has led to anger.”