Sudan: Group says 60 killed in protests against Al-Bashir

File: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks at the Presidential Palace, Feb. 22, 2019, in Khartoum, Sudan.
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CAIRO (AP) — President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigerians that ending banditry remains a key priority of his administration and he would do whatever it takes to ensure the country’s security system confronts these public enemies with merciless determination

Physicians for Human Rights said President Omar al-Bashir’s forces have attacked at least seven medical facilities, arrested at least 136 health personnel, fired tear gas and other weapons into hospital wards and denied patients access to medical care during the current wave of unrest.

The protests erupted in December, initially over a failing economy, but later transformed into demands for the resignation of the autocratic al-Bashir, an Islamist who has run the country for nearly 30 years but brought little improvement to his people.

Security forces have responded with a fierce crackdown, using tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and batons to quell the unrest. An estimated 2,000 protesters have also been wounded, many shot in the eye with birdshot and some losing limbs from live ammunition, according to rights groups and activists who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The government has said that 31 people have been killed but hasn’t updated its tally in weeks.

In its 24-page report, the New York-based watchdog said the Sudanese government forces’ targeting of the country’s health care infrastructure and the torture of detainees, including doctors, have increased the impact of the violence on the health of civilians and threatened the Sudanese people’s right to access health care.

“Disproportionate and excessive use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition by security forces are critically injuring Sudanese citizens who are exercising their legal right to peaceful demonstration, causing serious long-term health risks and, in some cases, even death,” said Rohini J. Haar, a medical expert at Physicians for Human Rights.

The group called attacks on doctors and medical facilities an “egregious violation of human rights.”

There was no immediate comment from authorities on the report and a government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the demonstrations, called for fresh rallies on Friday in Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country to press al-Bashir to step down.

Al-Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, has banned unauthorized public gatherings and granted sweeping powers to the police since imposing a state of emergency in February.

He insists that only elections, in which he intends to run, will result in change. Wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court over the fighting in Darfur, al-Bashir has repeatedly warned that the protests could plunge Sudan into the kind of chaos convulsing other countries in the region.

By SAMY MAGDY I Associated Press