Roads in Sudan's capital barricaded as strike against protest deaths starts

  • World
  • Tuesday, 18 Jan 2022

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Protesters erected barricades across roads in Sudan's capital Khartoum on Tuesday and some shops and offices were shut as a two-day general strike and civil disobedience campaign began in response to demonstrators' deaths.

Neighbourhood resistance committees and political parties called the strike after seven people were killed in Khartoum on Monday in one of the deadliest days to date in a series of demonstrations against a military takeover on Oct. 25.

Protesters are demanding the military, which had been sharing power with civilian groups before the coup, quit politics completely.

"It is our duty to resist them until we are victorious or they rule an empty country after they have killed us all," the Khartoum State resistance committees said in a statement.

Police confirmed the seven deaths on Tuesday, saying they used minimum force and had faced "systematic aggression". Military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan promised an investigation.

At least 71 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured by security forces since the coup, according to medics aligned with the protest movement.

On Tuesday morning, stone and brick barricades impeded access to some major roads in eastern and southern Khartoum, and the adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman. Protesters set fire to car tyres in some places and traffic was lighter than usual.

Groups representing doctors, teachers, engineers, and pilots announced support for the strike, as did resistance committees outside the capital, aiming to pressure authorities by cutting off state revenues and bringing life to a standstill.

Sudan is suffering a long-running economic crisis and Western nations that had supported a transition towards democratic elections after the toppling of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 suspended economic support following the coup.

In eastern and southern Khartoum just under half of businesses appeared closed, including some pharmacies, construction stores, and restaurants. Banks in the capital were not noticeably affected.

Several Western nations and the United Nations, which is pushing for negotiations to resolve the political crisis, expressed concern at Monday's deaths.

"Through disproportionate use of force and continued detention of activists and journalists, the military authorities are demonstrating that they are not ready to find a negotiated and peaceful solution to the crisis," the European Union said in a statement.

(Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir and Khalid Abdelaziz, Editing by Aidan Lewis and Angus MacSwan)

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