Sudan Protest Group Calls for Nationwide Protests After Children Shot Dead

Rallying cry by Sudanese Professionals' Association, which spearheaded protests that led to the removal of long-time president Omar al-Bashir in April, comes in response to the killing of students in El-Obeid

Sudanese university students chant slogans as they march during a demonstration commemorating protesters killed during past clashes, in the centre of the capital Khartoum on July 23, 2019.

Sudan's main protest group on Monday demanded the ruling military council immediately agree to a final transition deal after at least five people, including four school children, were killed in the city of El-Obeid.

In a statement, the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which spearheaded protests that led to the removal of long-time president Omar al-Bashir in April, also called for nationwide protests in response to the killings in El-Obeid, some 400 km (250 miles) southwest of the capital Khartoum.

Monday's protests in North Kordofan came ahead of scheduled talks on Tuesday between the military council and the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change — an alliance that also includes the Sudanese Professionals Association — over a contentions constitutional document, which is part of a power-sharing deal aiming at ending the political stalemate.

The Sudanese Doctors Central Committee, which is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, said the students were from high schools in the city of Obeid in the North Kordofan province.

They were rallying to protests a shortage of basic services in the province and also against what they see as the military's attempt to entrench its rule in Khartoum in the wake of al-Bashir's ouster.

Snipers shot at the students, the committee said. Several other people were wounded, some critically, it added.

The committee posted a video showing hundreds of students, school bags on their backs, protesting in Obeid as gunshots echoed in the background.

Mustafa Mohammed, a doctor at the main Obeid hospital, told The Associated Press that the hospital had received bodies of five people killed in the violence. The hospital was treating over a dozen wounded students, he added.

"Most of the wounded have been shot in the legs, heads and stomach," he said.

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The students recounted how trucks with paramilitary Rapid Support Forces moved in to disperse the protesters. The forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the country's ruling military council, grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias used by al-Bashir in the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s.

Protesters accuse it of leading a nationwide crackdown since the June 3 deadly break-up of a protest camp in Khartoum that killed over 128 people, according to protest organizers.

Mass anti-government protests erupted in Sudan in December, initially over dire economic conditions but quickly turned into calls for al-Bashir to step down. The military overthrew al-Bashir in April and took over the country but the protesters continued to hold demonstrations, demanding speedy transition to civilian rule.

Earlier this month, both sides reached a power-sharing agreement, including a timetable for a transition to civilian rule.

The joint civilian-military rule would last for a little over three years while elections are organized.