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Sudan's military authorities admit to ordering crackdown on sit-in

Spokesperson for military council expresses regret for 'violations' committed during deadly operation
Sudanese protester in Khartoum last week (Reuters/File photo)

Sudan's military authorities admitted to ordering a deadly crackdown on a sit-in in Khartoum last week, saying that the aim of the operation was to clear an area adjacent to the protest that had become a hub for "lawless behaviour".

Shamseddine Kabbashi, a spokesman for the Transitional Military Council (TMC), expressed "regret" for the "violations" committed while clearing protesters from the area near the army's headquarters.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Kabbashi told reporters that army leaders had met with the head of the judiciary and the country's attorney general to receive legal advice on how to deal with the "sensitive" situation. "Then, we directed the military leadership to plan for dispersing this sit-in, in accordance with known security and military procedures," Kabbashi said.

More than 100 protesters were killed in the army's brutal assault on demonstrators, with eyewitnesses in the capital reporting seeing bodies being thrown into the Nile River as the crackdown unfolded. Scores of rapes during the assault were also reported.

"We renew our regret for what happened," Kabbashi said on Wednesday. "There were missteps in the plans of the military leadership and there were violations."

He also expressed sympathy for demonstrators who were killed, calling them "martyrs of the revolution".

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Still, Kabbashi blamed opposition activists for the political impasse in the country, saying that the military council had met 95 percent of their demands, but they continued their "escalatory" moves.

The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) opposition alliance carried out a civil disobedience campaign, bringing life to a halt in Khartoum in the days after the deadly attack on protesters.

Earlier this week, activists suspended the strike to allow for mediation efforts by an Ethiopian envoy.

The opposition is calling for a complete transfer of power to a civilian government and a credible investigation to hold TMC officials accountable for the murder of protesters.

The TMC seized power after a coup against longtime leader Omar al-Bashir on 11 April, following months of popular protests calling for his resignation.

On Wednesday, state prosecutors announced criminal charges against Bashir.