Two killed at protest site as Sudan junta digs heels

Sudanese security forces have opened fire, killing two protesters and wounding 10 others near a protest site in the capital Khartoum.

Thousands of protesters have been camping at the sit-in site outside the army headquarters in Khartoum for months, demanding civilian rule amid increasing tensions with the country’s military rulers.

On Thursday, military rulers said the protest camp in the capital had become a threat to the country’s national security as they ordered the office of Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV in Khartoum to be shut down.

The ruling military council’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that its ambassador to Qatar had been summoned to Khartoum for consultations.

Sudan’s main protest group blamed the violence on the Transitional Military Council (TMC), saying that it is part of a plan to violently clear the protests. 

In a statement late Saturday, Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) said, “The killing and intimidation on Nile Street is just a prelude to committing a massacre to end the sit-in by force.”

Tensions are mounting between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and an alliance of protest and opposition groups who want a quick handover of power to civilians. 

The sit-in site has become the central point of Sudan’s protest movement, which saw longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir overthrown last month.

Since the ouster, protesters have been calling for the generals who replaced Bashir to hand over power to a civilian-led administration.

Negotiations between protest leaders and the ruling military council have broken down amid differences over whether a planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure. 

The SPA said Saturday it had reason to believe the military council was “planning and working to end the peaceful sit-in at the headquarters with excessive force and violence.”

Soldiers and security forces blocked off the city’s Nile Street on Saturday afternoon, while gunfire rang out in the distance, reports said.

The doctors’ committee said three people were wounded by gunfire and most of the other casualties were hit with rifle butts and steel bars. 

The latest violence comes after a man was shot dead Thursday on Nile Street, a day after a woman was killed in the same area.

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