Nine Sudanese soldiers detained

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Sudan’s military council spokesman said nine soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the country’s most powerful paramilitary group, were dismissed and detained in connection with the killing of protesters last week.

Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi added the governor of North Kordofan state and its security council would be held accountable for the killing of six people, including four schoolchildren, in state capital El-Obeid.

The country’s main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), welcomed the action against the RSF members, saying it would prevent further violence.

Representatives of the FFC and the council gathered to continue negotiations over a constitutional declaration that started on Thursday, state news agency SUNA said

Formerly known as the Janjaweed, the RSF fighters armed with assault rifles, machine guns mounted on trucks and rocket-propelled grenades are widely feared. They were hardened by war in Darfur against rebels who rose up against government.

Opposition groups accused the RSF, led by the deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, of killing protesters demanding a return to civilian rule since President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April.

The RSF commander, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, denied the claims and blamed “infiltrators”.

Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets last week in response to the El-Obeid killings and opposition medics said four more protesters were killed and othersinjured by gunfire in Omdurman. Kabbashi said authorities were pursuing those suspected of involvement in the Omdurman deaths.

His remarksat a press conference followed a night of negotiations with opposition groups over a constitutional declaration, a document that would pave the way for a transitional government.

Both sides signed a political deal in July setting a three-year transition period and a joint sovereign council. Talks over the constitutional declaration were called into question by violence last week before being reconvened.

“The agreement is now just around the corner,” Satea al-Hajj of the FFC said as talks restarted.