Home | News    Monday 31 January 2005

Sudan To Investigate Police Shooting That Left 14 Dead

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CAIRO, Jan 31, 2005 (AP) - Sudanese authorities have launched an investigation into the weekend police shooting that killed at least 14 demonstrators in Port Sudan , a senior official said Monday.

The shooting happened Saturday during a protest staged by Beja tribesman, who have long demanded more political and economic power in underdeveloped northeastern Sudan , particularly the Red Sea state, which includes Port Sudan . A tribal leader said the death toll was at least 25.

Kamal Obeid, head of the foreign relations department in the ruling National Congress, said Sudan ’s vice president has ordered a committee to investigate the cause of the shooting and recommend charges if any wrongdoing is uncovered.

Obeid, citing official reports from Port Sudan authorities, said some of the protesters were "very aggressive and the police fired in self defense."

"But if there is no aggression (from the demonstrators), justice will take place, meaning the concerned person will be punished," Obeid said by telephone.

A U.N. spokeswoman in Sudan said police fired on peaceful demonstrators.

On Saturday, Red Sea governor General Hatim al-Wasilah said at least 14 people were killed and 16 injured after police shot at the crowd to stop widespread looting and vandalism. Beja Congress leader Amina Dhirar said at least 25 people were killed and 196 injured.

Obeid said details provided by Port Sudan officials claimed that the use of force was authorized by a representative from the attorney-general’s office, which routinely assigns officers to monitor demonstrations where police are present.

"Investigators have to see whether the reports are accurate or not," he said.

State-run Sudanese media reported ruling party members have flown to Port Sudan for talks with leaders of the Beja Congress, an opposition group representing numerous eastern Sudan tribes.

The group rejected a Jan. 17 accord between the government and other opposition groups to end a 16-year low-intensity conflict, claiming the accord failed to meet its demands for a share of wealth and power.

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