Khartoum. — Security forces attacked the camp at the centre of Sudan’s protest movement, opening fire, torching tents and killing at least 13 people in an assault yesterday that swept away the months-long sit-in demanding the military yield power, witnesses and protest leaders said.
Protesters were seen in videos posted online running through streets lined with tents, heads down and ducking as the sound of gunfire filled the air. Smoke rose from the sit-in, located outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum. One video showed policemen swarming around a protester sprawled on the pavement, beating him with sticks.
By mid-day, security forces controlled almost the entire camp, pushing out protesters and sealing off the area, two activists said. Other forces attacked similar sit-ins in Khartoum’s sister city Omdurman and the eastern city of al-Qadarif, activists said.
The assault appeared to be a coordinated move to crush a protest movement that in April forced the military to remove Sudan’s strongman, Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of rule — and then stayed in the streets to keep up pressure on the generals who took his place.
“This is a critical point in our revolution. The military council has chosen escalation and confrontation,” said Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests.
“Those are criminals who should have been treated like al-Bashir,” he said.
“Now the situation is either them or us, there is no other way.”
Tensions have mounted as negotiations between protest leaders and military officials yielded little progress.
The talks focus on the makeup of a transitional “sovereignty council” that would run the country for the next three years. Protesters demand the military have only limited involvement in the council, but the ruling generals have resisted relinquishing power. — Associated Press.