Sudanese police clash with mourners as unrest continues

Protesters demand end to Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule in fifth week of demonstrations

Sudanese men  during an anti-government protest following Friday  prayers in the capital Khartoum. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Sudanese men during an anti-government protest following Friday prayers in the capital Khartoum. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

Sudanese police clashed with mourners on Friday during the funeral of a protester who died from a gunshot wound sustained during a fifth week of anti-government demonstrations.

They fired live ammunition after some mourners hurled rocks and chanted slogans demanding an end to the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir, a witness said.

Police used teargas against protesters in another part of the capital Khartoum and also in the adjacent city of Omdurman, on the other side of the River Nile.

Earlier, about 5,000 mourners turned out for the funeral and burial of Moawia Othman (60), who was shot late on Thursday.

Mourners blocked a main street in the Burri district of Khartoum with stones and chanted “There is no God but God!” and “Martyr! Martyr!”. Several were wailing and crying and some were carrying Sudanese flags.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

After Mr Othman had been buried and the Muslim Friday prayers began at noon, the mourners dwindled to hundreds who began chanting “Down, that’s it”, which has become the slogan of protesters signalling their main demand for Mr Bashir to step down.

As the atmosphere in the area grew more tense, police pulled out of Burri, leaving no security presence on its streets. The Burri protests continued late into the afternoon.

Teargas

Elsewhere, demonstrators blocked Sahafa Zalat Street, one of Khartoum’s main arteries that runs through some densely populated districts. They included older people and many women, not just the young who have dominated most protests so far.

At least seven police vehicles, other security forces’ vehicles and riot police were at the scene.

In Omdurman, police fired teargas at dozens of protesters as they left a mosque in the Wad Nubawi district, witnesses said.

The wave of protests in Sudan began on December 19th over price rises, but quickly turned into demonstrations against Mr Bashir. He has blamed the unrest on foreign “agents” and challenged his opponents to seek power instead through the ballot box.

But the near-daily protests pose one of the most serious and sustained challenges to Mr Bashir’s rule as his party prepares to change the constitution to allow him to seek another term.

Security forces have at times used live ammunition to disperse protesters. The official death toll in five weeks of protests stands at 24, including two security forces personnel. Rights groups say the figure may be nearly twice as high.

In violent clashes in Burri on Thursday, a child and a doctor were shot dead, the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, a group linked to the opposition, said. – Reuters