School students shot dead at Sudan rally ahead of talks

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Protesters erect a fire barricade during a demonstration against a report of the Attorney-General on the dissolution of the sit-in protest in Khartoum, Sudan July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Protesters erect a fire barricade during a demonstration against a report of the Attorney-General on the dissolution of the sit-in protest in Khartoum, Sudan July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

At least four school children and one adult were shot dead as security services broke up a protest in the Sudanese city of El-Obeid on Monday during a rally against shortages of bread and fuel, a day before protest leaders and ruling generals are set to hold new talks on the country’s transition.

A group of doctors linked to the opposition said the five were hit during a demonstration by high school pupils in the main city in Sudan’s North Kordofan state.

Many other people were injured, added the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors – one of a group of unions and professional bodies that helped lead months of protests against Sudan’s long-term leader Omar al-Bashir.

There was no immediate statement from the state security services, or from Sudan’s military leaders who ousted Bashir in a coup in April as the protests mounted.

Videos circulating on social media purported to show pupils protesting outside El-Obeid’s main hospital against the killings and injuries.

The eve of Tuesday’s talks aimed at resolving outstanding issues over the transition, five protesters were killed in Al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan state, said a doctors’ committee linked to the protest movement.

“Five martyrs succumbed to direct wounds from sniper bullets during a peaceful rally in Al-Obeid,” the committee said in a statement.

Hundreds of teenagers in uniform chanted “blood for blood, we will not accept blood money” in the footage. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the videos, or when they were taken.

But opposition activists have kept up their demonstrations since April, pressing for the military to speed up the move to civilian rule and calling for justice for people killed during a raid on a sit-in protest in Khartoum in June.

The main opposition Forces of Freedom and Change coalition is negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.

The two sides signed a deal on July 17 setting out the transition’s institutions. But talks have been repeatedly delayed since then amid disagreements of the wording of a constitutional declaration to determine the role of a new council to run Sudan.

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