January 23, 2019

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Sudanese Police Try to Break Up Swelling Protests Against Bashir

Sudanese Police Try to Break Up Swelling Protests Against Bashir
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CAIRO — The police used tear gas and fired in the air Tuesday to disperse thousands of protesters trying to march on the presidential palace to demand that Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan’s president of 29 years, step down, according to activists and video clips posted online.

The clips purported to show crowds of several hundred each gathering on side roads and headed toward the palace on the bank of the Blue Nile. They sang patriotic songs and chanted “freedom,” “peaceful, peaceful against the thieves” and “the people want to bring down the regime.”

One clip showed the lifeless body of a protester in Khartoum being carried away and placed inside a car that drove away. The protester’s head showed a gaping wound, and the voice of another protester could be heard saying he was deliberately shot by a sniper. Earlier images circulated by activists showed police snipers on rooftops near the palace ahead of the march.

Another clip purported to show two other protesters suffering gunshot wounds to the head and the legs as they were being attended to in a clinic. There were no reliable casualty figures available.

Large numbers of security forces were deployed across much of Khartoum Tuesday in anticipation of the march, with soldiers riding in all-terrain vehicles. The police fired in the air, used tear gas and hit demonstrators with batons to disperse them, only for the crowds to assemble again and try to continue their march. Activists said the battles continued after nightfall.

The protest was called by an umbrella of independent professional unions and supported by the country’s largest political parties, Umma and Democratic Unionist. The organizers want to submit a petition demanding that Mr. Bashir, in power since a military coup in 1989, step down.

Tuesday’s march follows nearly a week of protests initially sparked by rising prices and shortages of food and fuel, but which later escalated into calls for Mr. Bashir to go. He was in the Al Jazeera region, south of Khartoum, on a previously scheduled visit on Tuesday. Live TV coverage showed him addressing supporters there in a rally, and the country’s state news agency said he inaugurated a road and a girls’ school there.

In an address in which he frequently quoted verses from the Quran, Mr. Bashir blamed the country’s economic woes on international sanctions and enemies of Sudan who don’t want it to progress.

The march followed a joint statement late Monday by the United States, Britain, Norway and Canada, which said they were concerned by “credible reports” that Sudan’s security forces have used live ammunition against demonstrators.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International said it had credible reports that the Sudanese police had killed 37 protesters in clashes during the anti-government demonstrations.



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