A clash between police and people from Berber locality in River Nile state resulted in the death of one man, as protesters stormed a foreign mining company.
On Monday authorities in River Nile reported about the circumstances under which the deadly clash took place in Singeir, in the northern part of Berber. A man was shot by the police and succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. Five other people sustained injuries.
The press statement said that the clash was sparked by a dispute over the site in Singeir that recently has been granted to a Russian concessionaire, which received a mining license by the Sudanese authorities.
The statement said that the two parties of the gold miners and residents of the area had reached a compromise but that it has been violated by a group of approximately 150 people who stormed the Russian company’s mining site with the purpose to stop its operation.
The people forced the miners to leave the site within the hour and attempted to torch one of their vehicles. “The police force demanded the people to stop, but they refused an continued to carry out acts of vandalism on some of the machineries,” the statement read.
“They burned a tent and injured three policemen, leading the police force to retreat to the headquarters of the site. The group then threatened to burn a fuel pump. This forced the police to secure the headquarters and the lives of the workers there with anti-rioting methods and firepower.”
The statement reported that during the confrontation six people were wounded and later taken for treatment in El Baouga and Atbara. One of them, Habob Hamid Farah, succumbed to his wounds.
According to a recent report by the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), the country’s gold industry is affected by “bureaucratic and political corruption, including embezzlement, cronyism and patronage.” Minister of Minerals Hashim Ali Salim complained in January that state governors, ministers and commissioners violate the law by granting certificates for mining without any reference to his ministry.
Last year there were numerous protests against gold mining factories in North and South Kordofan and Northern State, staged by residents. Their main grievance was against the use of highly toxic cyanide in the gold extraction processes, which can pose a threat to people and animals.
One year ago, on 29 March, two anti-cyanide protesters were injured in Talodi in South Kordofan, when they stormed the gold cyanidation site in Tagola, and clashed with a paramilitary guarding force. The confrontations led to the burning of the entire site, and the state decided to deploy police forces to protect mining areas.
Last November, a student succumbed to gunshot wounds which he sustained during a violent demonstration against gold mining companies in South Kordofan’ s Kologi.
The opposition party Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) condemned the shooting of people in Singeir by the police at a Russian gold exploration company and called for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of the shooting. A statement the party issued on Monday said that the use of weapons in the face of unarmed people “confirms that the regime and its multiple security services and guards resort to violence in the face of the citizen’s right to express their opinion.”
The SCP further called on the authorities and the Russian company to immediately involve residents in consultations that benefit everyone.