Nine People Killed as Sudan Military Storms Khartoum Sit-In
KHARTOUM, Sudan. -- At least nine protesters were killed and several others injured on Monday when the Sudanese military opened fire to break up a sit-in, according to a local doctors' union.
Protesters had congregated outside the Defense Ministry in Sudan's capital Khartoum, opposing the interim military council that has ruled the country since a coup ousted long-time President Omar al-Bashir in April.
The casualties were hit by "live bullets" on Monday, an opposition union, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) said on their Facebook account.
The committee said security forces have surrounded the hospitals to which the wounded and dead bodies were taken.
Small fires and billowing clouds of black smoke could be seen in video taken in the capital on Monday. Other video showed people fleeing as guns went off. Protesters were also seen burning tires after security forces attempted to break up a sit-in.
Deema Alasad, a 25-year-old dentist from Khartoum, who took part in a sit-in outside the military headquarters, said the government's paramilitary force, as well as members of the intelligence and security services, arrived in the area early in the morning.
"They hit us and then they started shooting live ammunition, after putting the entire sit-in under siege," she said, describing the gunmen as "snipers."
Alasad said the protesters were "unarmed civilians."
"It is our right to protest and our right to express that we don't accept what is going on," she said.
Activist Fathi Abdo said he witnessed around 20 people getting shot on Khartoum's main streets and near army headquarters, where protesters have staged a mass sit-in for months.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella organization of trade unions, also said in a tweet that security forces had used live bullets and "excessive force" on protesters.
In April, Sudan's former leader Bashir was arrested and forced out of power in a military coup after the country became engulfed in protests opposing his three-decade rule.
Irfan Siddiq, the British Ambassador in Khartoum, called for an end to the violence.
"Extremely concerned by the heavy gunfire I've been hearing over the last hour from my residence and reports that Sudanese security forces are attacking the protest sit-in site resulting in casualties," he said on Twitter. "No excuse for any such attack."
An interim military council said it would lead the country through a transition period of up to two years, but protesters vowed to remain in the streets until a return to civilian government was guaranteed.
Since then, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum. In May, nine people were injured when soldiers stormed a pro-democracy sit-in, eyewitnesses said.
(PHOTO: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)