Eighty-seven killed in Sudan June protest


The head of a Sudanese investigation into the violent break-up of a protest by security forces said 87 people were killed and 168 wounded in the June 3 incident in Khartoum, citing a higher death toll than previous official estimates.

Fath al-Rahman Saeed, head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said some security force members fired live ammunition at protesters holding a sit-in to demand the military cede power.

He told a news conference three officers violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point for protests that led to the ousting of long-time President Omar al-Bashir on April 11.

Saeed said 17 killed were in the square occupied by protesters in the worst bout of violence since Bashir was toppled, adding 48 wounded were hit by bullets.

An order was issued to whip protesters, he added.

The Health Ministry previously put the death toll at 61, while opposition medics said 127 were killed and 400 wounded.

“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said.

“It became a security threat, forcing authorities to make arrangements to clear the area,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction to his comments from the opposition coalition Forces of Freedom and Change, which is negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections.

The committee found that some joint force members tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square and fired heavily and randomly”, leading to the killing and wounding of protesters.

Saeed gave the ranks and initials of eight officers he said were charged with crimes against humanity, punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give  full names.

A brigadier general, referred to only as A. A. M., mobilised a riot force of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, on the orders of senior officers not members of Sudan’s top leadership and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.

Saeed said the committee had not uncovered any rape incidents, although US-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped.

It was not possible for Reuters to independently verify reports of rape. Activists say Sudanese women are reluctant to publicly say they were raped to avoid social stigma.

Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer Bashir was deposed, previously denied there were any rapes.