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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sudan Braces For New Anti-Government Protests

Khartoum (AFP) – Sudan was braced Friday for a fifth day of demonstrations against fuel price hikes that have turned into anti-government protests, as security forces were accused of shooting dead 50 people.

Activists have called for protesters to take to the streets after the weekly Muslim prayers, and a massive deployment of security personnel was ordered.

Soldiers also stood guard outside Khartoum petrol stations which opened for business, as long lines of cars waited to fill up, an AFP correspondent said.

Internet access was cut for the second time this week, after being briefly restored on Thursday following a previous break in the service.

Most shops were closed but residents were out seeking supplies.

“I want my family to have what we need because we don’t know where this is all going,” said Ahmad Hassan, 50, stocking up on canned goods.

Siding with the youth activists, the Al-Umma party of main opposition leader and former premier Sadeq al-Mahdi called for “the Sudanese people to step up the protests”.

Trying to maintain a blackout on the unrest, the authorities on Friday seized or blocked publication of three newspapers, even though they are considered pro-government, journalists said.

The Al-Sudani and Al-Majhar al-Siassi dailies were seized at the printing press, they said, while Al-Watan was ordered not to print after covering the unrest in its Thursday edition.

The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies and London-based Amnesty International said 50 people were killed after being shot in the head or chest on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Local sources and activists have put the figure much higher, in excess of 100,” the groups said in a joint statement.

They also expressed “deep concern” about reports of hundreds being detained and urged the authorities “to ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment”.

“Shooting to kill — including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads — is a blatant violation of the right to life,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty.

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