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Two TV Journalists Freed in Sudan after Mass Street Protests

Two TV Journalists Freed in Sudan after Mass Street Protests

Friday, 31 December, 2021 - 18:00
Sudanese demonstrators in the streets of the capital Khartoum in protest at the army's October 25 coup. (AFP)

Sudanese security forces have released two journalists from Saudi Arabia's Asharq television channel, a day after detaining them as deadly violence flared during renewed protests against the military government, the station said Friday.

During Thursday's protests in and near Khartoum, "five uniformed security officers" held journalists Maha al-Talb and Sally Othman and their teams in their office for several hours, the channel said.

Sudan has been gripped by turmoil since military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched a coup on October 25 and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Hamdok was reinstated on November 21, but mass protests have continued as demonstrators distrust Burhan's promises of seeking to guide the country toward full democracy.

Protesters charge that the deal simply aims to give the cloak of legitimacy to the generals, whom they accuse of trying to continue the regime built by former president Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in 2019 following mass protests.

In the worst street clashes since Hamdok's return, five demonstrators were killed and dozens wounded by bullets on Thursday, said the independent Doctors' Committee, which is part of the pro-democracy movement.

Authorities also cut phone lines and the internet and cracked down on media, also including the satellite channel Al-Arabiya.

Othman was interrupted by security forces in the middle of a live broadcast and can be heard saying in a clip shared widely on social networks: "I will not be able to continue, the authorities are now forbidding me to continue with you".

Sudanese police blamed the incident on "reprehensible individual actions" which would be investigated.

The Doctors' Committee charged that "crimes against humanity" were committed in Omdurman, twin city of the capital Khartoum, on Thursday.

It said five demonstrators were killed by bullets to the head or chest, and that ambulances were blocked and at least one seriously injured person was forcibly removed from an ambulance by the security forces.

A police spokesman said four people died in Thursday's unrest and 297 people were injured, "including 49 police officers".

He also said "three police vans were set on fire" and accused protest "leaders clearly hostile to the security forces" of having sought to "turn a peaceful march into violence and confrontations with the security forces".

Street clashes since the October coup have claimed 53 lives and left hundreds wounded, and supporters of civilian rule in Sudan have continued to call for protests.

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