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Sudanese military imposes curfew after schoolchildren 'killed by sniper fire'

Activist-aligned doctors say four of at least five killed by paramilitary force in El Obeid were schoolchildren, and others are critically injured
Schoolchildren protesting in El Obeid on Monday (Twitter)

Sudanese authorities have announced a curfew in the North Kordofan region after at least five civilians were shot dead during a protest march on Monday. 

According to the activist-aligned Sudanese Doctors' Committee, snipers from the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary fired on a march of secondary school students in the regional capital El Obeid.

It also said three of the injured were in surgery and four of those killed were students.

The office of North Kordofan's governor said a curfew would be imposed indefinitely from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am in four towns including Al-Obeid starting on Monday, adding that all schools in the province had been told to suspend classes.

Sudanese troops firing as they face off with protesting students in El Obeid's city centre

Hundreds of schoolchildren had been marching through the city's main market on Monday morning.

A resident told the AFP news agency that the protests were prompted by fuel and bread shortages. 

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"School children were affected as there is no transport to help them reach their schools. Today, they staged a rally and when it reached downtown there were shots fired," the resident said. 

A live-stream broadcast on Facebook shortly after the firing showed protesters carrying the body of a dead schoolchild to his family home and hundreds gathering for his funeral prayer.

They began chanting against Sudan's ruling military council immediately afterwards. 

In the same video, the crowds shouted that the RSF fighters had used the "Dushka" machine guns mounted on the pick-up trucks they move around on. 

In another live-stream, the person filming showed a pool of blood inside the market and large holes in the doors of a shop that he said were created by bullets fired through them. He also claimed people had been shot directly in the head.

The UN's children's agency UNICEF said the protesting children were between 15 and 17 years old. 

“No child should be buried in their school uniform," UNICEF's Sudan's representative in Sudan Abdullah Fadil said in a statement. 

“UNICEF urges all those involved in the violence to protect children at all times and keep them out of harm’s way, in line with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Principles."

The Sudanese Professionals Association, who have spearheaded protests for civilian government in Sudan, said in a statement the ruling military council was responsible for the deaths. 

Translation: Rapid Support Forces open fire on the students

At least 250 people have been killed by Sudanese security forces since protests against now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir began in December 2018, according to the Sudanese Doctors' Committee. 

Around half of them were killed during an attack by the RSF on a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum where protesters were demanding the military council that replaced Bashir step down. 

The latest deaths blamed on the RSF came as military council deputy leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who also commands the RSF and is known as Hemeti, visited Cairo on Monday to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Egypt, which currently chairs the African Union, has supported Sudan's military council alongside the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.