Sudan shuts all schools after pupils' killing: state media

Sudan shuts all schools after pupils' killing: state media
Schools in Sudan were shut across the country on Tuesday after five pupils were shot dead in a rally in the central town of Al-Obeid.
3 min read
30 July, 2019
The Rapid Support Forces were accused of shooting dead the teenagers [Getty]
Sudanese authorities ordered all schools nationwide to suspend classes indefinitely on Tuesday, state media reported, after the shooting dead of five pupils at a rally sparked further student demonstrations.

"Orders have been given to governors of all states to shut kindergartens, primary and high schools from tomorrow (Wednesday) until further notice," the official SUNA news agency said, following a directive issued by the ruling military council.

The move came after Sudanese protest leaders cancelled planned talks with the country's ruling generals during a visit to the town where the five protesters were shot dead.

Sudan's military ruler condemned the killing of the schoolchildren in the central town of Al-Obeid on Monday as the United Nations called for an investigation into what protesters said was a "massacre".

Demonstrators accused feared paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces of shooting dead the teenagers at a rally against shortages of bread and fuel.

The killings came as protest leaders were to hold talks with generals on Tuesday on the remaining aspects of installing civilian rule after the two sides inked a power-sharing deal earlier this month.

But two protest leaders who are members of the protest movement's negotiating team said the dialogue would not take place as planned.

"There will be no negotiations today as we are still in Al-Obeid," Taha Osman, a negotiator from the protest movement told AFP by telephone from the town.

"There will be no negotiation today with the Transitional Military Council as our negotiating team is still in Al-Obeid and will return only tonight," another negotiator Satea al-Haj said.

Thousands of Sudanese students on Tuesday took to the streets in the capital and elsewhere in the country to condemn violence against fellow students.

The chairman of Sudan's ruling military council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, condemned the killings.

"What happened in Al-Obeid is sad. Killing peaceful civilians is an unacceptable crime that needs immediate accountability," the chairman of Sudan's ruling military council told journalists, according to state television.

Outstanding issues

The teenagers' deaths had prompted calls for Tuesday's planned talks to be suspended.

"We cannot sit at the negotiating table with those allowing the killing of revolutionaries," Siddig Youssef, a prominent protest leader, said in a statement.

Tuesday's talks were to cover issues including the powers of the joint civilian-military ruling body, the deployment of security forces and immunity for generals over protest-related violence, according to protest leaders.

The power-sharing deal agreed on July 17 provided for the establishment of a new governing body of six civilians and five generals.

But the publication on Saturday of the findings of an investigation commissioned by the military into the deadly dispersal of a Khartoum protest camp in June has triggered angry demonstrations.

Shortly before dawn on June 3, gunmen in military fatigues raided the site of the weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters, shooting and beating protesters.

Doctors linked to the protest movement say the raid left 127 people dead and scores wounded.

But the joint investigation by prosecutors and the ruling military council concluded that just 17 people were killed on June 3, with a total of 87 deaths between that day and June 10.

The probe identified eight officers involved in the crackdown on the protest camp, including three from the RSF.

Protest leaders have rejected the findings, saying the inquiry exonerated the military council and gave a far lower death toll than their own.

The investigation "was commissioned by the military council... (but) the military council itself is accused in this case", the SPA said.

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