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Sudan crisis: Capital Khartoum under lockdown as civilians gang up against military dictatorship

Heavily armed members of the Rapid Support Forces are said to be fanning out across the capital and the neighbouring city of Omdurman, clearing barricades and firing into the air. (PHOTO/File)

KHARTOUM – Sudanese paramilitary forces are pushing deeper into Khartoum, witnesses say, after a crackdown on protesters killed at least 30 people on Monday.

Heavily armed members of the Rapid Support Forces are said to be fanning out across the capital and the neighbouring city of Omdurman, clearing barricades and firing into the air.

The military has faced international condemnation for the crackdown.

It has ended a pact with the protesters over a transition to civilian rule.

The two sides had initially agreed a three-year transition, culminating in elections. On Monday, however, the military said polls would be held within nine months.

The demonstrators had argued that a longer period was needed in order to guarantee fair elections and dismantle the political network associated with the former government of President Omar al-Bashir.

Mr Bashir was overthrown by the military in April, amid pressure from the protesters. He had been president of Sudan for 30 years.

The demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters since 6 April, five days before Mr Bashir was overthrown.

Dozens died on Monday when security forces stormed protesters outside the defence ministry, doctors said.

Many Khartoum residents blamed the Rapid Support Forces for the crackdown. The paramilitary unit – formerly known as the Janjaweed – gained notoriety in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which began in 2003.

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