Around 20 dead and dozens wounded in Sudan protests

People protest near the defence ministry building in Khartoum, Sudan, in this still image taken from a social media video obtained on April 9, 2019. Courtesy Sudan Congress Party/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
People protest near the defence ministry building in Khartoum, Sudan, in this still image taken from a social media video obtained on April 9, 2019. Courtesy Sudan Congress Party/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Around 20 people have reportedly been killed and dozens wounded in attacks since Saturday by “masked gunmen” on a sit-in outside the defence ministry compound in Khartoum, the head of Sudan’s main opposition party said on Tuesday.

The leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, also called for “the handing of power to a select military command that is qualified to negotiate with representatives of the people to build a new system qualified to achieve peace and democracy”.

Demonstrations have taken place outside the heavily guarded military and intelligence headquarters since Saturday.

Protests initially erupted on 19 December after a government decision to triple the price of bread and evolved into nationwide demonstrations against President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year-rule.

Among the dead are at least two army soldiers, who were killed by Sudanese security forces while they attempted to protect protesters in front of the defence ministry, according to an opposition-linked group.

The Sudan Doctors’ Committee, a group affiliated with the opposition, said two soldiers were shot dead early on Tuesday during clashes between government security forces and Sudanese soldiers.

Security forces have made several attempts to break up the protest, but army soldiers have repeatedly come out to protect the demonstrators, often firing shots in the air and deploying soldiers on streets around the protesters.

On Tuesday the US, Britain and Norway urged Sudan to deliver a “credible plan for political transition” in the wake of the on-going anti-government protests.

“Failing to do so risks causing greater instability. The Sudanese leadership has a grave responsibility to avoid such an outcome,” the troika on Sudan said.

It also called on Sudanese authorities to “to release all political detainees, stop the use of violence against peaceful protesters, remove all restrictions to freedoms, lift the state of emergency and allow for a credible political dialogue”.