Two people were killed and dozens wounded as Sudanese security forces dispersed a rally demanding justice for protesters killed during anti-government demonstrations two years ago, the army said Wednesday.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said he was “shocked” by the killings, calling it a “crime to use live bullets against peaceful protesters”.
Hundreds gathered on Tuesday evening outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, at the site where thousands gathered in 2019 initially demanding the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir and urging a transfer to civilian rule.
The demonstration on Tuesday started shortly before iftar, the evening meal which breaks the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
It marked two years since the bloody dispersal of the mass encampment outside the army headquarters.
“As they (the protesters) left the site, unfortunate events occurred resulting in the killing of two people and the wounding of others,” the armed forces said in a statement, adding that an investigation had been launched.
The army said they were “fully prepared to bring to justice, whoever is proven to be involved”.
On Wednesday, the US embassy in Khartoum expressed “shock and dismay” over Tuesday’s killings.
“We condemn use of live ammunition on peaceful protesters,” it said on Twitter, calling on Khartoum to “fully investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators”.
– ‘Calling for justice’ –
In the protests on Tuesday, young demonstrators were seen carrying banners and photos of the people killed during the crackdown on the 2019 sit-in, according to an AFP correspondent.
“Retribution for the martyrs,” many chanted, as they waved Sudanese flags.
“We will continue calling for justice,” said protester Samar Hassan.
One protester gave a speech calling for further demonstrations, if the government failed to present the findings of an investigation into the 2019 killings in the coming weeks.
Witnesses said security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Ahead of Tuesday’s gathering, Sudanese authorities set up roadblocks on the routes leading to the army headquarters.
Hamdok, in a statement on Twitter, called the 2019 crackdown “extreme brutality”.
He vowed his transitional government, which took power after Bashir’s ouster, would “bring perpetrators to justice”.
The 2019 sit-in was held to call for an end to Bashir’s three-decade rule.
The iron-fisted ruler was ousted in April 2019, but the protesters kept up the encampment for weeks demanding the transfer of power from the military to civilians.
In June 2019 and towards the end of Ramadan, armed men in military fatigues violently dispersed the camp.
The days-long crackdown left at least 128 people dead, according to medics linked to the protest movement.
The ruling generals at the time denied ordering the bloody dispersal and called for a probe into the incident.
An investigation committee was launched in late 2019 to look into the events, but has yet to finish its inquiry.