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Sudan June crackdown killed 241 people: rights group

Sudanese security forces deliberately killed 241 people in a crackdown on a pro-democracy protesters in June, an international rights group said Thursday.

It was the deadliest episode of a months-long protest movement that kicked off in late 2018 and led to the ouster of veteran president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 and to civilian rule later that year.

Thousands of Sudanese protesters had camped outside the army headquarters in Khartoum demanding Bashir’s ouster and kept up their sit-in even after his departure to protest against military rule.

On June 3, armed men in military fatigues moved in on the protest camp and dispersed thousands of demonstrators.

In the ensuing days-long crackdown, scores were killed and wounded.

Doctors linked to the protest movement have said at least 128 people were killed in the violence. Authorities gave a lower death toll of 87 and denied ordering the sit-in dispersal.

But in a scathing report titled “Chaos and Fire”, the US-based NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said the crackdown was a “massacre” that claimed 241 lives.

“Sudanese security forces launched a series of planned, violent attacks against pro-democracy protesters that killed up to 241 people and injured hundreds more,” the report released Thursday said.

The group said its findings were based on multiple witness testimonies, consultations with health workers and analysis of thousands of online footage and images of the dispersal.

“Sudanese security forces were responsible for perpetrating unconscionable acts of violence against pro-democracy demonstrators,” said the report.

Those acts included “extrajudicial killings and torture, excessive use of force, sexual and gender-based violence, and the forced disappearance of detained protesters,” it added.

Phelim Kine, PHR’s research and investigation director, called the dispersal “an egregious violation of human rights”.

PHR called on UN member states to sanction Sudanese officials responsible for the violence.

In August, Sudan’s military leaders and others from the protest movement leaders formed a civilian-majority body to rule the country for a transitional period of three years.

The new authorities set up in October an independent commission to investigate the events of June 3. The team has yet to release its findings.

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