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Sudan's PM Hamdok survives assassination attempt in Khartoum

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok reported unhurt after his convoy was targeted by explosives in attack in the capital
Sudanese rescue teams and security forces gather next to a damaged vehicle at the site of the assassination attemp (AFP)

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has survived an assassination attempt targeting his convoy in the capital Khartoum, state television and a source in the cabinet said on Monday.

Hamdok said he was in "good shape" and that what had happened would be "an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan", where he heads a transitional government following the overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir.

The prime minister's government is struggling to manage a severe economic crisis that triggered months of protests against Bashir and continued after his downfall in April of last year.

Ali Bakhit, the prime minister's office director: said: "An explosion hit as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's car was driving by."

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State radio said it had been hit by gunfire and a projectile, while state television said it had been targeted by a car bomb.

"I saw the moment of the explosion and the strike, and the strike came from a high building," one witness told Reuters.

Omdurman radio said automatic weapons were also used in the attack and that Hamdok was taken "to a hospital". 

In a tweet following the attack, Hamdok said the attempted assassination would "not stop the path of change".

"What happened will not stop the path of change, it will be nothing but an additional push in the strong waves of the revolution," he said.

Images broadcast on regional TV channels and social media showed a convoy including several damaged white SUVs and a badly damaged car.

Three witnesses told Reuters the attack happened near the northern entrance to Kober bridge, which connects Khartoum North with the city centre, where Hamdok's office is.

The convoy appeared to have been targeted from above, they said. The area was quickly cordoned off by the police.

One member of Hamdok's entourage suffered light injuries, a government statement said.

Following the attack, Information Minister Faisal Salih said that "terror attempts" and the dismantling of the old regime were matters that would be dealt with decisively.

"The prime minister's convoy was targeted in a terrorist attack as he was heading to work," Salih said.

"Terrorist attempts and dismantling the old regime will be dealt with decisively," he added.

Salih said investigations are ongoing to determine who was behind the attack.

Coup attempts

Hamdok leads a government of technocrats under a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups for a transitional period due to last until late 2022.

Relations between civilians and the military have been tense, and the government has encountered resistance as it tries to implement economic reforms.

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Transitional authorities are also taking steps to disempower Bashir's supporters, including parts of the security services.

In mid-January, armed security agents linked to Bashir fought soldiers in Khartoum for several hours, after a dispute linked to severance packages.

Soon after Bashir's overthrow, authorities said they had thwarted several coup attempts by military officers.

'Deeply worrying event'

"The attempted assassination of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is the new episode in a series of coup plots against the revolution," Khalid Omer, a leading member of the civilian coalition that backed last year's uprising, said on Twitter.

Hamdok is an economist and former senior United Nations official who is well connected with the international community.

Britain's ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Siddiq, called the attack "a deeply worrying event" which "reaffirmed the fragile nature of this transition and the vital role being played by the PM".

Thousands of anti-military protesters have held demonstrations in recent weeks to support Hamdok and his government.

After Monday's attack the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the anti-Bashir movement, called for further rallies to display unity and support for civilian rule, and witnesses said crowds had begun to gather around midday.