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Iran Press TV

Thousands of Sudanese hold protest rallies across country against killing of 4 students

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 1, 2019 03:37PM

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Khartoum and other cities to express their anger at the shooting death of four school students in a central city after protest leaders called for a "million-strong" rally to condemn tragic killings.

On Monday, suspected snipers shot dead six people, including four school students during a rally while they were taking part in a protest rally against fuel and bread shortages in al-Obeid city, the capital of the central province of North Kurdufan.

The killings infuriated the Sudanese and escalated tensions in the crisis-hit African country, prompting authorities late Tuesday to order the temporary closure of all schools nationwide.

The order came as crowds of students on Wednesday rallied in the capital, waving flags and chanting, "The people want to fight for the rights of martyrs."

On Thursday, protesters marched in a number of neighborhoods of Khartoum after their leaders called for a mass rally to "seek justice" for those killed in al-Obeid and other protest-linked violence.

The rallies were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a key protest group, to denounce the al-Obeid killings.

"Where is the investigation committee?" chanted protesters as they rallied through the Burri and Bahri neighborhoods of the capital.

Many demonstrators carried Sudanese flags and photographs of some of those fellow protesters killed in the months-long protest campaign.

According to witnesses, demonstrators also held similar rallies in al-Obeid, the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, in White Nile state and in the central city of Madani.

At least four protesters were killed and many injured by gunfire in the Sudanese city of Omdurman on Thursday, opposition medics were quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Four protesters have been killed by live ammunition and several wounded at a rally in Omdurman," the doctors committee said in a statement.

Jamal Omar, a top general from the country's ruling military council, blamed members of the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for opening fire on al-Obeid's school students.

During a press conference, Omar said the student rally had initially been blocked by a group of RSF forces who were guarding a nearby bank, adding that RSF's action led to a reaction from some students who hurled stones at the forces.

"This made some members of the force act in their individual capacity to open fire on protesters. We have identified those who fired live ammunition that led to the killing of the six," he further said.

Sudan's official news agency SUNA said in a report that the accused had been handed over to authorities in North Kordofan state.

Sudan has been the scene of numerous protest rallies over the past seven months. On April 11, the Sudanese military unseated and then imprisoned 75-year-old former president Omar al-Bashir after some four months of widespread protests over dire economic conditions and soaring prices of basic commodities.

Following the ouster of Bashir, who had come to power through a military coup in 1989, Sudanese military leaders established the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC) with the task of running state affairs.

However, generals of the TMC also moved to consolidate power and faced popular protests, which called for a civilian body to govern the country.

The protest rallies against the military leaders have on many occasions turned bloody in the face of a heavy-handed crackdown.

In the most violent case of the clampdown, gunmen in military fatigues raided the site of a weeks-long sit-in outside Sudan's army headquarters in Khartoum on June 3, leaving hundreds dead or wounded.

Last week, the findings of an investigation conducted by prosecutors and the TMC into the massacre showed that 87 people had been killed in the violence, a death toll much higher than the Sudanese health ministry's previous estimate of 61.

However, the opposition medics have raised the death toll to at least 127 people and set the number of the wounded at 400. They say the massacre occurred after security forces fired live ammunition at protesters.

The investigation blamed the bloody dispersal on "rogue" military personnel.

The RSF is led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy leader of the TMC and the second most powerful man in Sudan right now.

The investigation into June 3-massacre has found three senior RSF officers involved. Daglo, however, has denied such accusations against his RSF, saying it was an attempt to distort the image of his force.

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