Sudanese security forces have
attacked a pro-democracy protest outside the military headquarters in the
capital, Khartoum, activists say.
Gunfire has been heard, and medical
sources say at least 13 people were killed and dozens others injured.
Sudan has been governed by a
Transitional Military Council (TMC) since President Omar al-Bashir was
overthrown in a coup in April.
The council later denied using force
to break up the main protest site.
“Sudanese forces did not
disperse the sit-in outside the army headquarters by force, but rather targeted
a nearby area which has become a threat to the safety of citizens,” TMC
spokesman Lt Gen Shams al-Din Kabbashi told UAE-based Sky News Arabia TV
Protesters have been demanding that
a civilian government take over the running of the country.
The security services moved on the
main protest site early on Monday, activists say.
A source inside one of the main
hospitals in Khartoum told the BBC they had received at least eight bodies and
many others injured.
The Central Committee of Sudanese
Doctors, which is close to the protesters, put the death toll at 13 and
reported a “large number of critical casualties”.
“Now an attempt is taking place
to disperse the sit-in,” said a statement from the Sudanese Professionals
Association, which is spearheading nationwide protests.
The association later said it was
suspending all communication with the TMC, calling for a campaign of
“sweeping civil disobedience to topple the treacherous and killer military
Protesters have been burning tyres
and erecting barricades to try to fend off the security forces.
Journalist Benjamin Strick, who
specialises in verifying footage on Twitter, has shared dramatic videos from
Khartoum, where repeated gunfire could be heard.
Lt Gen Shams al-Din Kabbashi said
security forces had moved towards a location near the main protest site, which
he said had “long been a hotbed of corruption and negative
“The area has become a major
security threat to our citizens… and it also affects the safety of protesters
in the sit-in area,” the TMC spokesman added.
“We did not disperse the sit-in
by force. The tents are still there and the youth are moving there
He said that many protesters
“preferred to leave the sit-in”.
Some Khartoum residents blame the
notorious paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Forces.
It was set up to help keep Mr Bashir
in power and has its roots in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which began
in 2003. Then known as the “janjaweed”, this militia carried out
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Sudan
said attacks by Sudanese security forces on protesters must stop.
power’ takes big hit
It is back to square one for Sudan’s
political process. The hardening stances that stalled the talks between the
protest groups and the TMC have been further cemented on both sides.
Expect more resolute protests and a
possibly even more ruthless crackdown from the men in uniform. It is the latter
who are governing right now. What matters is which faction of the security
forces has the upper hand in the TMC.
The hardliners, particularly the
Rapid Support Forces – led by the deputy head of the regime, Mohamed
“Hemeti” Hamdan Dagalo – appear to be leading the way and could
display more ruthlessness than has been seen so far.
There has been a total lockdown in
Khartoum, indicating something has shifted within the regime. “People
power” is taking a big hit, but protesters could be willing to take
greater risks to force the military’s hand, if possible.
The demonstrators have been
occupying the square in front of the military headquarters since 6 April, five
days before Mr Bashir was overthrown.
Last month, organisers and the
ruling generals announced they had agreed on the structure of a new
administration and a three-year transition period to civilian rule.
But they still need to decide on the make-up of
what has been called the sovereign council, which will be the highest
decision-making body in the transition period