Sudanese protesters attacked in new police crackdown in Khartoum

Sudanese protesters attacked in new police crackdown in Khartoum
3 min read
31 December, 2018
Protests close to Sudan's presidential palace have been attacked by security forces.

Sudan video 1

Protesters in Sudan have been injured after police reportedly opened fire on crowds in central Khartoum on Monday, according to footage shared by activists on social media.

Police fired tear gas towards the protesters who were marching towards President Omar al-Bashir's palace.

Demonstrations organised by professional bodies have called on the Sudanese leader to "step down" following recent deadly crackdowns in the country.

Footage showed a man with a bloodied face being carried to safety by other protesters.

A social media account said the man was a protester who had been shot, although The New Arab cannot independently verify this. 

Journalist Yousra Elbagir, who was at the scene, reported on Twitter that protesters had been badly beaten and shot by security forces.

"I was caught secretly filming a convoy of armed national security trucks and they attacked us. They banged on the car doors with batons screaming 'give us the camera!' When I opened the door, one guy grabbed me by the shirt and screamed in my face to hand over the phone," Elbagir tweeted.

"He ripped my shirt open and one officer went around and grabbed the cameraman in the driver’s seat and hit him. They kept screaming until I gave them my local phone that has no sensitive information or footage and they released us after giving the cameraman a final smack."

She said that indiscriminate heavy force was being used by security forces against observers and people filming the crackdown.

There were hopes that Monday's planned march on the presidential palace might pass peacefully, after Omar al-Bashir called on police to minimise the use of force.

This follows criticism from the UN at the government's deadly crackdown on protesters.

"We want to maintain security and we want the police to do that by using less force," Bashir said.

"We admit that we have economic problems... but they can't be solved by destructions, lootings, and thefts," Bashir said

Protesters chanted "freedom, peace and justice" and "revolution is the people's choice" as they gathered in downtown Khartoum, but they were quickly confronted by anti-riot police, witnesses told AFP.

Hundreds of policemen and security forces were deployed to the centre to prevent the march taking place.

At least 19 people, including two security personnel, have been killed since protests erupted on 19 December, after the government raised the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents).

Protesters are also angry at rising inflation, economic mismanagement and government crackdowns on free speech.

Inflation is running at 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.

Monday's march was called for by doctors, teachers and engineers, after they organised a similar protest on 25 December.

"We will march towards the presidential palace calling for President Omar al-Bashir to step down," the Sudanese Professionals' Association said in a statement late Sunday.

Opposition groups and prominent rebel chief Abdel Wahid al-Nur from war-torn Darfur have also urged their supporters to participate in the march.

Protesters have torched some buildings and offices of the president's ruling party across Sudan.

Agencies contributed to this story