Sudan's military junta blames protesters for student killings

Sudan's military junta blames protesters for student killings
Protesters have blamed the shooting of five school students in al-Obeid on the Sudanese paramilitary forces.
2 min read
01 August, 2019
Five teenaged students were killed by snipers on Monday in Al-Obeid [AFP]

Sudan's military junta on Thursday blamed protest leaders for the "massacre" of five young students and claimed the school pupils had been "forced" to protest by their pro-opposition teachers.

Five teenaged school students were shot dead during a rally in al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan province, on Monday.

Outrage against the incident, described as a "massacre" by protest leaders the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), soon spread with demonstrations held across the country.

The United Nations has since called for an investigation into the shooting, which also led to the cancellation of negotiations between opposition forces and the military.

The military also shuttered schools across the country indefinitely following the killings.

Protesters have squarely placed the blame for the killings on the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a feared paramilitary group led by the junta's deputy leader.

The RSF - an officialised offshoot of the Janjaweed militias accused of perpetrating war crimes during the Darfur conflict - is also widely accused of leading the massacre of at least 127 people in the capital Khartoum last month.

But the security and defence committee of the transitional military council on Thursday blamed the SPA for the students' deaths.

Members of the teachers' committee of the SPA in al-Obeid had "forcibly removed" students from class to participate in Monday's rally, the military alleged in a statement carried by Sudan's state news agency SUNA.

"Elements" of the pro-opposition teachers' committee also "beat" teachers at the Al-Obeid Secondary School for Girls in order to force them to bring their students to the rally, the security and defence committee claimed.

The committee holds these "elements" fully responsible for the events, the statement said, and it is now working on identifying the individuals and pursuing legal action against them.

The claims follow a pattern of accusatory statements made by the transitional military council. 

The junta has previously blamed the SPA for "inciting" violence by encouraging and organising demonstrations.

The day before a "million-man" march last month, the military warned the opposition would be held "fully responsible for any victims".

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