October 3, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - More than 200 people were killed in the protests that erupted across Sudan last week, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
- FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 file photo, Sudanese men look at damage to of a police check point office after protesters burnt it Tuesday night, amid a wave of unrest over the lifting of fuel subsidies by the Sudanese government, in Kadro, 15 miles (24.14 kilometers) north of downtown Khartoum (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)
"The number of deaths of protesters is estimated at 210 people in Khartoum alone, according to the Sudanese Doctors’ Union. Amnesty International has spoken to doctors who report that the majority of deaths in hospital were due to gunshot wounds to the chest and head. The death toll estimate does not include people killed in other towns and cities in Sudan where protests continue, or those who were not taken to hospital," the UK-based rights watchdog said yesterday.
The demonstrations were directly linked to the government’s decision to scale back fuel subsidies which almost doubled the prices of gasoline and diesel.
Khartoum denied that its security forces have used live ammunition and suggested that rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) infiltrated the protests and carried out the killings. The government insists that only 34 people were killed including policemen contrary to higher figures offered by activists and opposition.
Around 700 people were arrested in connections with the riots which saw vandalizing to gas stations and public transportation buses.
Today, a group of 35 people appeared before a judge in Khartoum’s Haj Youssef district, defense lawyer Muatassim al-Haj told Reuters. Among the defendants were five people from South Sudan, three women and eight teenagers, he said.
"None of them was actually arrested during the demonstrations but only on the following day," Haj added.
The judge offered to release the group on a bail of 20,000 Sudanese pounds ($2,500) but they could not raise the funds, he said.
In today’s weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, the interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed briefed his peers on last week’s demonstrations and emphasized the right to peacefully protest but he pointed out that some protestors resorted to violence and vandalism which required deploying troops to protect strategic facilities.
According to cabinet spokesman Omar Mohamed Saleh, some individuals and groups used firearm against innocent citizens in areas in the outskirts of the capital that had no demonstrations or vandalism incidents. He added that some arrests were made in connection with these instances while others are still being sought.
Saleh said that the report also mentioned that vandalism covered large parts of the capital including 42 gas station, 9 pharmacies, 40 public vehicles, 2 companies, eight police stations, 81 comprehensive security sites, 35 police vehicles, 5 banks and 23 governmental buildings.
The interior minister asserted that what happened is not a protest against the economic measures , but organized operations for the purpose of sabotage and looting.
The governor of Khartoum state Abdulrahman al-Khidir told the cabinet during the meeting that the police never used live ammunition and that all the deaths occurred as a result of "sinful hands" meant to ignite sedition in the country.
Al-Khidir said they releases all those who participated in the demonstrations but took no part in any subversive activities or infringement on the lives or properties of citizens.
The cabinet meeting hailed the police that avoided using force and exercised maximum restraint.
In a related issue, Sudanese authorities detained 9 female students from University of Khartoum (UoK) who demonstrated to protest against the crackdown on protestors.
Activists said that dozens of UoK carried signs calling on Bashir to step down and releasing detainees
"A security patrol came and took 9 of them," they said.
On social networking sites, activists have circulated invitation for demonstration tomorrow across Sudan following Friday prayers.