Sudan demonstrations continue amid crackdown: 4 protesters killed, police conduct house raids and storm hospital

Security forces shot dead four demonstrators on Wednesday in Omdurman, the twin city of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, according to medical sources, as protesters attempted to march to Parliament to submit a petition calling for President Omar al-Bashir to step down.

As the demonstrations enter their fourth week, eyewitnesses reported seeing snipers positioned within the city as well.

“Among attempts to oppress Wednesday’s protests, I saw snipers on some building rooftops,” Anas Mohamed, a protester, told Mada Masr.

Meanwhile, security forces fired live rounds and teargas inside a public hospital in Omdurman, “horrifying patients and hospital staff as they pursued people seeking treatment after they had sustained gunshot injuries during protests,” according to an Amnesty International report published Wednesday.

The officers began by opening fire in the hospital’s courtyard before moving into the emergency and medical wings of the hospital, assaulting patients and doctors, Amnesty International added.

Security forces have also been conducting house raids targeting demonstrators in Omdurman.

“Omdurman has become a security camp with extensive deployment of security forces and police,” Al-Haj Ali, a resident of the Banat neighborhood in Omdurman, told Mada Masr. “My house has been raided by security and I have been beaten by officers,”

Police also reportedly arrested 14-year-old Abdel Rahman Mohamed, taking him hostage to force his father, considered to be one of the protests’ leaders in Omdurman, to turn himself in.

The protests in Sudan first erupted in the northeastern city of Atbara, in Sudan’s River Nile State, on December 19 against food and fuel shortages, as well as soaring prices. They quickly spread across the entire country, with demands escalating to include calls for President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, to step down.

By December 24, rights watchdog Amnesty International reported that 37 people were killed in just five days of protests across Sudan, and over 1,000 arrested.

Meanwhile, Bashir’s supporters also organized a counter rally to show their support for the president in the Garden City neighborhood of Khartoum.

“There is no way that Bashir should step down, because that would mean that chaos will grip the country, like with many of our neighbors in the Middle East. We will fight to keep Bashir in power, even after 2020,” Ali Abakar, one of the participants in the pro-Bashir rally, said.  

At the rally, Bashir rejected calls to step down and said that he is only willing to be replaced “through election.”

He also reiterated his accusations that the current protests against him have been fueled by unidentified foreign countries and by mercenaries infiltrating the protests to spark violence.

“Sudan has been targeted since its independence, and the current economic situation is part of this targeting,” the president said. “But we still have some friends, including China, Russia, the Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.”