Published: Tue, April 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Sudanese army blocks attempt to disperse protesters

Sudanese army blocks attempt to disperse protesters

Protesters want the armed forces to withdraw their support of the government.

The death toll among demonstrators rose to six after the death of a staff member from stray bullets near a building close to the Sudanese army headquarters, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have staged a sit-in since Saturday.

In the presence of heavily armed security forces and riot police, protesters were chanting slogans to encourage the army to help them overthrow al-Bashir's government.

Sudanese protesters gather near the military headquarters, Sunday, April 7, 2019, in the capital Khartoum, Sudan.

The Alliance for Freedom and Change is an umbrella group of political parties and unions representing doctors, engineers and teachers that has led the protest movement against Bashir since December.

Some demonstrators lobbed stones at security forces, who used tear gas, live rounds and batons in repeated attempts to drive the crowd away from the area.

Seven people were killed and 2,496 arrested during peaceful anti-government protests in Sudan over the weekend, state-run media reported Monday, citing the country's interior minister.

Witnesses said soldiers were putting up barricades in streets near the compound, where thousands of protesters have been demonstrating outside since Saturday urging the army to back them.

Several vehicles carrying security personnel arrived in the early hours of the morning at the site where protesters had been demonstrating continuously since Saturday.

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But witnesses and activists said soldiers guarding the compound had come out to protect the demonstrators, firing warning shots in the air.

A few hours later security personnel again fired tear gas at the demonstrators, witnesses said.

"We want you, the young officers and soldiers, to remain committed to the role of the national army, which is of protecting the people", the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement.

"The people of Sudan have shown remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinary obstacles over many years", the EU's External Action Service said. Human Rights Watch says more than 50 people have been killed, including children and medics, since the beginning of the protests in December.

With respect to the ongoing anti-government action, the Sudanese army on Monday deployed troops around its headquarters as demonstrators besieged the premises.

Sudan's security council on Sunday said the demands of the protesters "have to be heard" after a meeting chaired by the veteran leader.

The civil unrest initially began due to the soaring cost of living, but has widened to call for the resignation of Mr Al Bashir, who has ruled since 1989.

They chose Saturday for their march to coincide with the April 6 anniversary of a 1985 military coup that forced long-time autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri to step down after protests.

Aside from the killings, activists, Opposition leaders and journalists have also been jailed by the National Intelligence and Security Service which is very feared in the country.

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