Sudan police fired on funeral march, protesters say

September 28, 2013

Sudanese security forces in pickup trucks opened fire Saturday on hundreds of mourners marching after the funeral of a protester killed a day earlier, the latest violence in a week of demonstrations calling for the ouster of longtime President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

The man killed was a pharmacist from a prominent family, suggesting that the heavy security crackdown could deepen discontent, spread unrest and upset the complex network of power centers that Bashir relies upon to stay in power.

Three female protesters interviewed separately said dozens of pickup trucks and security forces surrounded them in a main street in the capital Khartoum before security personnel fired tear gas and live ammunition. It was not possible to independently verify their account, but Sudanese activists and international rights groups say government security forces have routinely used live fire against protesters, often aimed at the head and torso.

The protests, which erupted Sunday night, were initially triggered by the lifting of fuel and wheat subsidies. But in recent days, demands have escalated to call for the resignation of Bashir, who has ruled for 24 years.

The death toll from a week of protests is sharply contested. Amnesty International and the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies have accused the government of using a “shoot to kill” policy against protesters, saying they had documented 50 deaths in rioting on Tuesday and Wednesday alone.

Youth activists and doctors at a Khartoum hospital said that at least 100 people have been killed since Monday. Sudanese police have reported at least 30 deaths nationwide, including those of officers. Official statements have often blamed unknown gunmen for attacking protesters.

Activists have begun to compile pictures, names and personal details of each protester killed.

The government, meanwhile, appears to be trying to impose a media blackout. Gulf-based satellite broadcasters Sky News Arabia and Al-Arabiya said their Khartoum offices were ordered shut by the government. Sudanese news outlets online have reported that photographers and cameramen were barred from covering the protests, while editors have said they were ordered to describe protesters as “saboteurs.”

— Associated Press

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