By Faith Nyasuguta
Sudanese security forces have nabbed Al Jazeera’s bureau chief, the network has announced days after the latest crackdown on anti-coup protesters that left six dead.
The medics’ Union revealed that part of those killed were two teenagers.
Five were shot dead by the forces whereas one other died from “suffocation by tear gas”, the medics who have recorded a total of 21 people killed since the coup started almost three weeks ago said.
Since the army grabbed power on October 25, Sudan’s planned transition to full civilian rule has been derailed,stirring international condemnation and also provoking regular protests.
On Sunday, the European Union urged the junta “to return to the path of a fair and open dialogue with civilians”, demanding “the release of all detainees including journalists” nabbed since the putsch.
“Security forces raided the house of Al-Musalami al-Kabbashi, the Al Jazeera bureau chief in Sudan, and detained him,” the network said via Twitter without giving details.
Sudan has a long history of military coups, with the nation only enjoying scarce interludes of democratic rule since its independence in 1956.
“Over 50 people were arrested during the protests on Saturday,” lawyer Enaam Attik said, adding that “Prosecutors ordered their release, but the police have taken them to an unknown location.”
Since October 25, Al Jazeera has given major coverage to demonstrations against the military power grab, but in last week’s coverage, it also aired a detailed interview with top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Despite internet outages that have pushed Sudan’s residents to communicate via SMS messages and graffiti, the protests with over 10,000 demonstrators have continued.
Among those killed on Saturday was Alsheikh Yasser Ali, 18, who was protesting in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman in demand for civilian rule.
“I attended the body’s autopsy, which showed that he took a bullet to the shoulder which hit the heart and the lungs,” Zaher Ali, his uncle told AFP. “I almost collapsed in the morgue.”
Since the coup when Burhan declared a state of emergency, detained civilian leaders and ousted the government after an April 2019 coup, several media outlets have been targeted.
Burhan, the de facto head of state since Omar Al Bashir fell, has fired the heads of Sudan’s state television and the official news agency.
The media council boss that grants journalist permits has also been swapped and handed back to Abdelazim Awad, who led the council during Bashir’s authoritarian rule.
The coup has sparked punitive measures from the West and the World Bank, imperilling the impoverished country’s need for investment and aid.
The United Nations has also urged security forces to show restraint, while Britain’s minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said Sudan’s “military must listen to the huge numbers calling for restoration of the democratic transition”.