Death toll rises to 22 as anti-government protests intensify in Sudan

Death toll rises to 22 as anti-government protests intensify in Sudan
  • 33
    Shares
Khartoum: Anti-government protests that have rocked Sudan have left 22 people dead, authorities said Thursday, after three demonstrators died hours after thousands cheered for President Omar al-Bashir at a rival rally in Khartoum.

Wednesday’s competing rallies in the capital followed weeks of angry street protests over a government decision to triple the price of bread at a time when the country faces an acute shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation.

Hundreds of protesters who have repeatedly called on Bashir to step down marched in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman chanting “freedom, peace, justice” and “revolution is the people’s choice”.

But they were quickly confronted with tear gas fired by riot police. Videos posted on social media that could not be independently verified showed some demonstrators pelting police officers with rocks.

On Thursday, police confirmed that three protesters had died in the Omdurman demonstration but did not specify the cause of death.

“An illegal gathering was held in Omdurman and police dispersed it with tear gas,” police spokesman Hashim Abdelrahim said in a statement.

“Police later received reports that three protesters had died and several (were) injured. We are now investigating.” That raised the total death toll in protests so far to 22 including two security personnel, according to official figures.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Monday that at least 40 people including children had been killed in the unrest, citing Sudanese activists and medical workers.

A doctor told AFP late on Wednesday that six protesters were being treated at Omdurman’s main hospital for gunshot wounds.

A group of doctors at the hospital said that police fired tear gas at the facility.

“There was also shooting inside the hospital,” the group said in a statement, without specifying who had opened fire.

On Thursday, governor of Khartoum Hasim Osman set up a committee to investigate the incidents at the hospital, his office said in a statement.

Bashir and others have blamed violence at the nearly month-long protests on “thugs” and “conspirators” without naming them.

Wednesday’s demonstration came soon after thousands of people danced and cheered Bashir at a separate rally held in the capital’s Green Yard as police officers, soldiers and security agents secured the site.

“This gathering sends a message to those who think that Sudan will become like other countries that have been destroyed,” Bashir told the crowd.

“We will stop anyone who destroys our properties.” Crowds chanted

“Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) and “Yes, yes, Bashir, we will follow you” at the rally, where the president was accompanied by his wife and a group of ministers.

“Those who tried to destroy Sudan… put conditions on us to solve our problems, I tell them that our dignity is more than the price of dollars,” Bashir said in an apparent dig at the United States, which had imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997.

The embargo was lifted in October 2017, but Sudanese