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“Hamza Group” claims responsibility for assault on Sudanese journalist

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July 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A group called “Hamza Group for Fighting against Atheism and Heresy” has claimed responsibility for the assault on the editor-in-chief of Al-Tayyar daily newspaper.

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People stand outside Al-Tayyar headquarters after the attack on 19 July 2014

On Saturday, a group of masked gunmen on stormed the building of Al-Tayyar daily newspaper in Khartoum and assaulted Osman Mirghani. They also confiscated all cellular phones and laptops of the newspaper’s staff and attacked several journalists before leaving.

The group claimed in a statement distributed in down town Khartoum on Sunday responsibility for the assault on Al-Tayyar, describing the attack as “daring operation”.

The group’s logo which appeared on top of the statement depicts two crossed swords and a Quran inside a circle.

On Monday, the Hamza group for the second time claimed responsibility for a the attack on Mirghani and accused further journalists of supporting normalisation with Israel.

The group also vowed to punish Meriam Ibrahim for renouncing Islam. The Sudanese Christian woman and her family are currently staying at the US embassy in Khartoum.

Unconfirmed reports in Khartoum say that security authorities Monday arrested a leader of a jihadist group Mohamed Ali el-Jizouli, but officials refuse to confirm this information.

Meanwhile, the deputy speaker of the parliament, Samia Ahmed Mohamed, held the Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU) responsible for the assault against Mirghani, saying the SJU did not investigate what she called Mirghani’s “insult to humanitarian feeling”.

She was alluding to Mirghani’s debates with others on the issue of normalising relations with Israel.

Sudan’s police, for its part, said it arrested two suspects in connection with Mirghani’s incident, stressing it collected information on the assault.

However, police denied to provide further details, saying information are confidential and restricted to the ongoing investigation.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) condemned the assault on Al-Tayyar and its staff, demanding the concerned government bodies to play their role in laying the foundation of law and justice.

It also called for launching fair and transparent investigation on the incident in order to arrest the real perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible.

The opposition alliance further called upon the government to allow freedoms of expression, publication, and press, saying the incident reflects a situation of absence of the rule of law, chaos, and proliferation of arms among groups which don’t fall under control of regular forces.

The NCF also said the incident points to disturbing and horrific deterioration of security situation given the declining role of the security institutions.

The Sudanese vice-president, Hasabo Abdel Rahman, told journalists on Sunday that the presidency instructed the security service and the police to take the necessary measures to arrest the assailants who attacked Mirhgani and to bring them to justice.

Speaking during a Ramadan breakfast organised by the Sudanese Journalists Union on Sunday, Abdel Rahman condemned the attack and said that all the security agencies are currently working to catch the perpetrators of the attack.

On Sunday, about 500 journalists demonstrated in Khartoum to protest against the assault. They gathered outside Al-Tayyar headquarters before marching to the National Council for Press and Publications (NCPP) holding banners calling for freedom of expression and press.

(ST)

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