Sudanese paramilitary forces have killed at least 60 people in a two-day crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Khartoum, the country’s capital, BBC quoted an opposition group as saying on Wednesday. The violence began when the forces of the Transitional Military Council opened fire on unarmed protestors on Monday.
The country has been roiled by protests since April, when peaceful demonstrators forced outPresident Omar al-Bashir because of rising prices. The military council then took power and imposed a three-month state of emergency. It also reached an agreement with Opposition groups to transition to democracy within three years.
The military council expressed regret on Wednesday and claimed the attacks occurred because a “clean-up operation” went wrong. The crackdown drew condemnation from the international community but on Tuesday China, with Russia’s help, blocked an attempt to raise the matter in the United Nation Security Council.
The international reaction, however, forced the Sudanese military to initiate talks with Opposition groups without any conditions, Reuters reported. It had earlier threatened to cancel all agreements with the Opposition. “We in the military council, extend our hands to negotiations without shackles except the interests of the homeland,” Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military council, told state media on Wednesday.
The day before, the council had said fresh presidential elections would be conducted within nine months. However, protestors are demanding that the Transitional Military Council make way for a civilian-led interim body. On Wednesday, hundreds of people in Khartoum blocked streets with barricades of stones, and waited in silence, AFP quoted witnesses as saying.
According to reports, hospitals in Khartoum are struggling to cope with the number of injured people. “The situation is very difficult,” said an unnamed doctor, who works at two hospitals. “Most of the hospitals have taken in more casualties than they have capacity for. There is a shortage of medical staff, a shortage of blood, and it is difficult to do surgery because some operations can only be done in certain hospitals.” The toll is expected to rise as a number of people are in critical condition.