September 27, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese capital today saw continued demonstrations by anti-government protestors following Friday prayers as public anger grew over the growing death toll in the unrest that came in the wake of Khartoum’s decision to cut fuel subsidies.
Sudan Tribune reporters said that the twin capital city of Omdurman witnessed the fiercest clashes between thousands of demonstrators chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” and security forces which used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protestors.
Other areas of Khartoum also saw protests but at a lesser scale than Omdurman.
In Kalakla area, south of Khartoum, eyewitnesses said that some police units joined protestors. East of Kalakla the police had deployed in large numbers near mosques in anticipation of protests following Friday prayers. However, they did not intervene when people took the streets and just monitored them.
Sudan Tribune reporters could only ascertain 6 deaths in today’s protests but the Turkish Anadolu news agency put the death toll at 9.
Authorities downplayed today’s protests saying that calm has mostly returned to the streets despite some demonstrations that was swiftly broken up.
The police in a statement accused an “unknown party” of firing bullets at protestors leading to the death of 4.
It urged citizens to ignore rumors and incitement and avoid taking part in these protests.
According to official figures, 31 people were killed so far in this week’s riots including policemen with hundreds of injuries.
In Burri area of Khartoum, a funeral is planned on Saturday morning for one of the dead protestors named Salah al-Sanhoori was reportedly shot with a bullet to his chest.
Speaking earlier today in a radio talk show, interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud disclosed that the police arrested more than 600 people during protests, adding that 100 individuals are investigated and they will appear before the courts next week.
He confirmed the burning some public establishments, private vehicles and cars in the capital adding they deployed policemen to protect the 220 fuel stations in Khartoum.
He went further to say he does not rule out possible involvement of rebel groups in the “acts of sabotage”.
US & UN CONDEMNS VIOLENCE
The US on Friday issued a condemnation of the “brutal crackdown” on protestors and ” excessive use of force against civilians”.
“Such a heavy-handed approach by Sudanese security forces is disproportionate, deeply concerning, and risks escalation of the unrest” the US State department said.
“The United States condemns violence by government forces and protesters, and urges restraint on both sides. We also call on the Government of Sudan to respect the universal rights of its citizens, including the freedoms of speech, assembly, and peaceful protest” the statement reads.
The statement also expressed alarm over crackdown on civil society activists, media outlets and restricted access to the internet and cell phone networks.
“We urge the Government of Sudan to provide the political space necessary for a meaningful dialogue with the Sudanese people about the political and economic challenges facing their country”.
In Geneva the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cécile Pouilly, on Friday issued a statement expressing concern following reports about excessive use of force against peaceful protesters .
“We are deeply concerned about reports that a significant number of people have been killed during the demonstrations taking place across Sudan since Monday”, Pouilly said.
The spokesperson called on the Sudanese authorities to “show utmost restraint” and to refrain from resorting to violence, stressing that “under international law, intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified when strictly unavoidable and only in order to protect life”.
She called on protesters to maintain the peaceful nature of their demonstrations.
“We also urge the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views,” she further said.
Today, the security service closed the bureaus of UAE-based Al-Arabiya and Sky New Arabic Service television stations, accusing them of false reporting on this week’s events.
Al-Sudani and Al-Meghar Al-Siyasi newspapers were banned from publication for Saturday edition.
Diaa Al-Deen Bilal, editor in chief of Al-Sudani said he was notified of the temporary suspension but no reason was provided. He noted that the newspaper has not been able to publish since Thursday.
Bilal stressed that the decision prevents them from reaching their readership on top of the financial losses.
He slammed the Sudanese Journalists syndicate for playing a “zero role” in the protection of newspapers against the crackdown now or in the past.
Journalists of the independent newspaper Al-Sahafa also decided today to resign collectively from the daily to protest against the censorship imposed by the security service which prevents them from freely covering the recent protests across the country.
Since the beginning of the protests the security services prevented the local press from publishing reports about the demonstrations except from official sources.
The riots have also inflicted heavy damages to gas stations, public transportation buses and some police stations. This has created long queues at the few opening and operational gas stations.
The government has cut off the internet on Wednesday and part of Thursday. Yesterday Sudan TV carried a message that a cyber blackout will be imposed from 12 am for the next 48 hours without explanation. However, internet access was severed for only part of the day.