The Rapid Support Forces militia and other security forces under the guidance of the Transitional Military Council unleashed the deadliest attack yet against protestors at the sit-in site in the capital Khartoum early this morning.
The same source has confirmed that two bodies have been found floating in the Nile River, apparently thrown into the river along Nile Street in the capital.
According to the Committee and local sources at the sit-in protest area, the RSF and security forces blocked patients receiving care from Al Mo’alem and Royal Care Hospital and shot live bullets into East Nile Hospital.
At around 5 am, the security forces under the Transitional Military Council [TMC] started shooting randomly at the protestors at the sit-in site using sound bombs, tear gas and live bullets, according to eyewitnesses. The security forces started their attack on Nile Street and proceeded to block a number of entry / exit points to the protest site, the same sources said. “The government forces made a cordon around the entire area and begun breaking up the barricades that the protestors [built up],” said eyewitness Ahmed Musa. ‘Then they entered the area, especially from Nile street and from Jamma, Jamhuria and Baladiya streets.”
One of the protestors –who is now sheltering some of those targeted in her house for safety—said the RSF were attacking ruthlessly to send a message to the protest movement. “They wanted to scare all of us so that we do not go out anymore,” said Eman Zarouq*. “They wanted people to die, there are snipers in my neighbourhood.”
The security forces under the TMC burnt down tents used by the protestors at the sit-in site, including some used by doctors to treat injured patients, local sources said.
While national in scope, the sit-in protest site outside the army headquarters in Khartoum was the focal point of Sudan’s protest movement. It is here where protestors managed to oust long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in April and have since been calling for the generals who replaced him under the TMC to hand over power to civilian rule.
The opposition umbrella group, the Freedom and Change coalition, announced an indefinite suspension of the talks with the TMC hours after the attack on the protestors at the sit-in site. “We hereby declare a halt to the negotiations with the TMC and we hold the council responsible for the planning and implementation of this massacre,” the Coalition said in a statement.
The Sudan Professionals Association, who make up part of the coalition and organized the protests that are now over five months in duration, have called on the protestors to continue peaceful demonstrations in the streets despite the attack. “We call on the revolutionaries in all neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities of Sudan to go out to the streets and start marching, closing all streets and bridges and ports. We call for a comprehensive civil disobedience to bring down the deadly military junta and complete our revolution.”
TMC Spokesperon Shams al-Deen al-Kabashi said in televised remarks that the military had targeted an area near the sit-in but that the violence had spilled over into the main site.
The attack was largely conducted by the paramilitary RSF under the leadership of the Deputy TMC leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Himmedti”) and former leader of the infamous Janjaweed militia, wanted for crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The TMC had declared on Saturday that the sit-in had become a threat to the country. “We must firmly stand up to the ongoing chaos and build a true state,” the Deputy TMC leader said the same day in a televised address. “To be truly a civil rule it must be based on the rule of law and no one is above the law –if this chaos continues it won’t be a civil state, it will be anarchy.”
Sudan Analyst Dr. Suleiman Bado said the TMC had rallied up support from Gulf countries ahead of the attack. “It appears the chairman of the Transitional Military Council and his deputy sought and obtained support during recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which have strengthened their resolve to stay in power at any cost, including by using gunfire against Sudanese unarmed civilians,” Bado said.
Last Tuesday, security forces under the TMC shuttered broadcaster Al-Jazeera, revoking journalists’ equipment and confiscating equipment. The same authorities also blocked foreign correspondents from reporting on the attack today. “Difficult for me to see what is happening in Khartoum right now,” tweeted freelancer Jason Patinkin, “Government forces have prevented foreign journalists from leaving hotel or even going onto balconies of the building to look at the streets.”
* The name has been changed for security reasons