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Protest in southwest Sudan ends in violence

By Reuters | May 5th 2019
Sudanese Professionals' Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests said the protesters were peaceful, and made no mention of casualties. (Reuters)

A protest in the South Darfur city of Nyala ended in violence on Saturday, with security forces launching tear gas at protesters and firing gunshots, state news agency SUNA and Sudan's main protest organiser said.

Around 5,000 protesters marched peacefully from the Atash camp for the displaced to a military installation housing the 16th Infantry Division, SUNA said, citing South Darfur's governor. Sudan has seen frequent protests near military buildings.

The agency said protesters attacked military personnel and tried to seize military vehicles in the town, some 1,100 km southwest of Khartoum.

However the Sudanese Professionals' Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests that led to the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir last month, said the protesters were peaceful, and made no mention of casualties.

South Darfur Governor Hashim Khalid Mahmoud said four military and Rapid Support Forces personnel were injured, SUNA reported. He said the joint forces fired live ammunition into the air and used tear gas, but said no demonstrators were hurt.

The SPA is locked in a standoff with the ruling Transitional Military Council over who will control a proposed joint civilian-military body to oversee the country until elections can be held. Protests have continued in a bid to push the council to cede power to civilians.

The SPA, part of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance, called on people across Sudan to take to the streets "in rejection of the practices of the regime in its new version, its security apparatus and its militias, and condemning their attacks on the peaceful rebels in Nyala".

"Let us go out to the streets and rally at the sit-ins to support our brothers in Nyala, in support of them and their right to recapture their glorious sit-in in front of the 16th Infantry Division," the SPA said in a statement.

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Mahmoud said he would "not allow again the presence of protesters" in front of the military's general command and the state government building in Nyala.

"They have to choose any other place to sit in," he said.

A widely circulated video that was shared live on Facebook from inside a hospital in Nyala showed several people with gunshot wounds to the limbs. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.

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