Health

Four protesting against military rule in Sudan shot dead, doctors say

Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades as
protesters marched through Khartoum and the neighbouring cities of Omdurman and
Bahri towards the presidential palace, Reuters witnesses said.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said four
protesters were shot dead by security forces, at least three of them in
Omdurman.

Al Hadath TV quoted an adviser to military leader
Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan as saying the military would not allow anyone to pull
the country into chaos and that continued protests were a “physical,
psychological, and mental drain on the country” and “would not
achieve a political solution”.

Thursday’s protests is the 11th round of major
demonstrations since an Oct 25 coup which saw Abdallah Hamdok removed and then
reinstated as prime minister. The demonstrators have demanded that the military
play no role in government during a transition to free elections.

The Forces of Freedom and Change coalition said that
security forces “used excessive repression” on Thursday and called on
“regional and international communities and human rights organizations to
condemn the coup.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter
that he was troubled by reports of lethal force and the United States
“stands with the people of Sudan, as they demand freedom, peace, and
justice.”

The UN Special Representative to Sudan, Volker
Perthes, said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the deaths, adding
that “all people have the right to express themselves peacefully; media
have to report freely.”

Security forces confronted the protesters about 2 km
from the palace in the centre of the capital, a Reuters witness said.

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Protesters continued facing tear gas in the city of
Bahri past sundown near a blocked bridge connecting it to the capital, another
Reuters witness said. Volleys of heavy tear gas followed protesters into
neighbourhoods after being turned away from a bridge.

The Khartoum State Ministry of Health also said in a
statement that security forces in Omdurman prevented ambulances from carrying
the injured to nearby hospitals, adding that the “scale of repression
exceeded expectations.”

The doctors’ committee said security forces arrested
an injured man along with medical staff who tried to get him into an ambulance.

Sudan’s sovereign council this week reinstated powers
of arrests, detentions and seizures to the intelligence service. The
intelligence service justified the decision by saying that the political
situation could turn “catastrophic.”

Amid a communications blackout, most bridges to
Khartoum were closed, with at least two blocked by shipping containers. An army
checkpoint with an armoured vehicle was seen at one of the bridges that
remained open.

Protesters heading towards the blocked bridge
connecting Bahri to the capital chanted: “As much as we sacrifice and die,
we won’t be ruled by the boot.”

Internet and mobile services appeared to be disrupted
in Khartoum on Thursday.

Reuters witnesses were unable to make or receive
domestic and international calls and a source at a telecoms company said an
order to shut down internet services had come from the state-owned Sudan
National Telecommunications Corporation.

Some people managed to post images on social media
showing protests in several other cities, including Port Sudan, Zalenjei,
Kassala.

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The doctors’ committee said Thursday’s deaths brought
the death toll to 52 since crackdowns on protests against military rule began
in October.

“I come for the martyred. I’m not going to be
tired because some people gave their lives for this. Being tired is nothing
compared to that,” said a nurse in Bahri who has attended all 11 protests
and gave her name as Jihad.

Several young men wore gloves to allow them to throw
back tear gas canisters and stun grenades.

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