Sudanese police fire on protesters demanding president step down | World news

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across Sudan, including the capital, where activists said a child and a doctor were killed in clashes between police and protesters calling for the end of Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year-old rule.

Thursday’s protests marked some of the most widespread disturbances since unrest began on 19 December.

The protests were triggered by price rises and cash shortages, but have quickly developed into demonstrations against Bashir.

In the day’s most violent clashes police in Khartoum’s Burri neighbourhood fired rubber bullets and teargas, and chased demonstrators with batons, witnesses said. Several people were overcome with teargas, while some were bruised by rubber bullets and others beaten.

Hundreds of young men and women blocked streets and alleyways with burning tyres, and some hurled stones at security forces, witnesses said. Many chanted “down, that’s it” to send the message that their only demand is Bashir’s fall.

Demonstrators also taunted security forces by ululating each time a stone-throwing demonstrator hit police, witnesses said.

A live video posted on social media and verified by Reuters showed security forces pointing guns at protesters in Burri. The sound of gunfire could be heard.

In the video, a demonstrator yelled “why are you shooting?” as protesters, some wearing masks as protection from teargas, ducked to avoid the firing. It was not clear if rubber or live bullets were used. One man who appeared to be injured and had spots of blood on his shirt was carried away.

“There were people shooting at us,” one protester told Reuters. “They fired rubber bullets.”

He said he saw five people fall to the ground, adding he was not sure if they were hit by rubber or live bullets. He said he saw a few other injured people being carried away, but security forces blocked the area and the wounded were unable to reach a hospital.

Instead they were being treated in a makeshift emergency room inside a home. At some point, security forces approached the makeshift clinic and fired teargas into it as the wounded were being treated, three witnesses said.

A police spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hundreds also protested in al-Qadarif, Atbara, Port Sudan, al-Dueim and al-Ubayyid, drawing teargas volleys from police, witnesses said.

Security forces have at times used live ammunition to disperse demonstrations. The official death toll stands at 24, including two security forces personnel. Amnesty International has said that more than 40 people have been killed.

“We will continue to protest until the government falls because we want to provide a better life for our children,” said a 47-year-old teacher who demonstrated in downtown Khartoum.

Bashir has blamed the protests on foreign “agents” and said the unrest will not lead to a change in government, challenging his opponents to seek power through the ballot box.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that she was deeply worried about reports of excessive use of force by Sudanese security forces.

Sudan has struggled economically since losing three quarters of its oil output – its main source of foreign currency – when South Sudan seceded in 2011, keeping most of the oilfields.

The US lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan in 2017. But many investors continue to shun a country still listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Bashir is wanted by the international criminal court over charges, which he denies, of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region.

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