Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Sudan denies involvement of Russian mercenaries in anti-protest operations

Sudan denies involvement of Russian mercenaries in anti-protest operations

Human Rights Watch also said that at least 40 people, including children, have been killed in the protests, citing Sudanese activists and medical workers.

The human rights body stopped short of identifying those who fired the live ammunition, as well as who may have ordered its use against demonstrators who have been calling for Bashir to step down amid tensions over rising living costs.

Anti-government protests first flared last month and have posed the most serious challenge yet to Bashir, a former army general who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region.

On Sunday, protest organisers called for demonstrations in Khartoum and other towns, including Madani, Kosti and Dongola, as part of what they have called a "Week of Uprising".

The commission's statement came amid another day of anti-government protests, which began on 19 December when the government tripled the price of bread.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been organising protests, called for a march in the capital Khartoum on Sunday after police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman after midday prayers on Friday.

"It's like a cat and mouse game", a witness said.

A total of 131 people were also injured during the protests, Amir Mohamed Ibrahim said at a news conference.

At least 22 people, including two security personnel, have been killed during the protests and hundreds wounded, officials say.

Darfur has remained largely calm since past year, with no anti-government demonstration held so far even as protesters staged hundreds of rallies in other cities that have been swiftly broken up by riot police.

The protests that first broke over the price rise have quickly turned into anti-government demonstrations, with angry crowds calling for an end to Bashir's three decades in power.

The crisis has deepened since past year, when the country saw some brief protests over bread shortages.

The crackdown has drawn global criticism with Britain, Canada, Norway and the United States warning Khartoum that its actions would "have an impact" on its relations with their governments.

Washington imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017.

Sudan's economy was crippled when the south seceded in 2011, taking away much of its oil resources.

They have since turned against Bashir's almost 30 years in office.

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