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Sudan military admits abuses committed in Khartoum attack | World news

Category: Political Protests,Politics

Military rulers in Sudan have admitted that security forces committed abuses when they attacked a protest camp in Khartoum earlier this week.

A spokesman for the transitional military council said an investigation into the violence had begun and several military officers had been arrested over the “violations”.

Gen Shams Eddin Kabashi did not elaborate at a news conference late on Thursday beyond saying the alleged offences were “painful and outrageous”. He rejected all calls for an international investigation.

More than 100 people were killed in the attack on Monday and in clashes afterwards as paramilitaries from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) spread through the capital to quell sporadic unrest.

The exact death toll is unclear because many bodies were dumped in the Nile in an attempt to hide the scale of the killing. Hundreds more were injured in widespread beatings and assaults.

Doctors told the Guardian the RSF may have carried out more than 70 rapes during the crackdown.

The military took power in a coup on 11 April, ousting President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests against his 30-year autocratic rule.

An area outside the defence ministry in Khartoum then became the focal point of fresh protests as demonstrators demanded the military hand over power to civilians.

Stalled talks between the council and an alliance of opposition groups over who should control a transition towards elections collapsed after security forces crushed the sit-in protest on 3 June.

A two-day general strike commanded widespread support earlier this week before it was called off by opposition leaders. The decision caused some anger.

Ahmad Mahmoud, who took part in the Khartoum protests, said he had thought the civil disobedience campaign would continue until the military leaders gave up power.

“People went on strike based on that understanding and then the [opposition leaders] abruptly changed their mind,” he said.

There are fears that widespread violence in remote parts of Sudan is going unreported. The UN confirmed on Thursday that 17 people had been killed and more than 100 houses burned in Deleij village in Darfur earlier this week.

A man crouches inside a burned house in Deleij village.
A man crouches inside a burned house in Deleij. Photograph: Reuters

Amnesty International said this week that it had new evidence showing that “Sudanese government forces, including the RSF and allied militias, have continued to commit war crimes and other serious human rights violations in Darfur”.

At least 45 villages had been completely or partially destroyed in the past year, Amnesty said.

“In Darfur, as in Khartoum, we’ve witnessed the Rapid Support Forces’ despicable brutality against Sudanese civilians – the only difference being, in Darfur they have committed atrocities with impunity for years,” Amnesty’s secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, said.

The internet remained cut and communications restricted as diplomatic efforts got under way to mediate between the military and the opposition.

Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for Africa, met the head of the council, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in Khartoum and asked him to implement measures that might allow successful talks to resume. These included stopping attacks on civilians, withdrawing the military from Khartoum and allowing an independent investigation of the attack on the sit-in.

Kabbashi said Washington had given the council several pieces of advice, “but they are not orders”.

The bloodshed in Sudan has prompted concern from some world powers, but the military council has been bolstered by support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which between them have offered $3bn in aid.

The Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, visited Khartoum last week to mediate between military leaders and the opposition.

Trade sanctions were lifted in 2017, but Sudan is still on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which prevents it from accessing much-needed funding from international lenders. Washington has previously said it will not take Sudan off the list while the military remains in power.

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