The Sudanese government announced on Wednesday that it issued orders to the army to deploy to public government buildings and fuel stations to protect them against “outlaws”.
“What we see confirms that they are not peaceful protesters but outlaws,” Sudan’s Information Minister Ahmed Bilal and government spokesperson was quoted as telling the pro-government Ashorooq TV.
Associated Press (AP) adds that the army also reinforced positions Thursday around military headquarters in the capital and along the city’s university road, which is close to the presidential palace. In his interview, Information Minister Bilal also acknowledged reports of an internet shutdown in Sudan, saying that the government has exercised “plenty of self-restraint” but promised that the cyber-blackout will soon end, Sudan Tribune reports.
Protesters are said to have torched cars and petrol stations in different parts of Khartoum, and thick black smoke is reportedly seen rising into the air, Reuters reports, while AP claims that protesters torched 20 gas stations in Khartoum and elsewhere, and set fire to several police stations. Stores have been looted in parts of the city.
A source in north Khartoum was quoted by Sudan Tribune saying that he saw security agents in plain-clothes fire live ammunition at protesters and beating some of them violently. A Reuters reporter saw police fire tear gas grenades into a crowd while hundreds of officers and plain-clothes security agents armed with guns or batons rushed to the city centre.
In Wad Madani, capital of Gezira state, Bilal claimed that protesters attacked more than 37 policemen, saying that a total of five people from both sides have been killed. The governor of Gezira said the rallies were “premeditated” and that rioters attacked electricity and fuel stations and tried to loot banks and stores, the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) reported on Wednesday. SMC also reported that schools in the state of Khartoum would be closed until next Monday, 30 September.
The First Vice President of Sudan, Ali Osman Taha, declared on Wednesday that the government does not fear the rallies and reaffirmed that the austerity measures as announced by President Al Bashir will remain in place.
Meanwhile, a UN official told Reuters by email that President Al Bashir would not after all be coming to New York, giving no further details. Al Bashir was planning to attend the UN General Assembly in the city.
News photo: Protesters block a street in Alkalakla neighbourhood, south of Khartoum (Twitter)
Related: Sudan protests death toll between ’21 and 140′ (26 September 2013)
News photo below: A queue for fuel (Twitter)