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Gunfire echoes in Khartoum as protest crackdown leaves 60 dead

Gunfire echoes in Khartoum as protest crackdown leaves 60 dead

Since Sudanese forces forcibly dispersed an nearly two-month sit-in against military rule on Monday, killing at least 113 people according to activists, the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have fanned out across the capital and its sister cities Omdurman and Bahri, forcing many to stay inside their homes.

Mr Abiy was met at the airport by generals from the Transitional Military Council that assumed power after the armed forces removed longtime ruler Omar Al Bashir from the presidency in April.

Since then they have resisted calls from protesters and Western nations to transfer power to a civilian administration and several rounds of talks with the demonstrators finally broke down in mid-May.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was heading to Khartoum on Friday to try to mediate between the two sides, Reuters news agency reported, quoting diplomatic sources.

The death toll from Monday's attack on the sit-in of Sudan's pro-democracy protesters has risen to 100, after 40 bodies were recovered from the River Nile, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD).

The Sudanese Doctors Union accused security forces of attacks on hospitals and staff across the country, and alleged some women had been raped in an area of the capital without giving details of how the group had learned of the assaults.

But three members of an opposition delegation that met the Ethiopian premier were later arrested, their aides said Saturday.

Security forces in Sudan have arrested 2 protest leaders - Mohamed Esmat and Ismail Jalab.

Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which brings together opposition parties and groups with the organisers of the mass protests which have gripped the east African country since December previous year.

The paramilitary force grew out of the Janjaweed militias used by al-Bashir's government to suppress the Darfur insurgency in the early 2000s, a scorched-earth campaign that led to his indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges including genocide.

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Abiy's visit comes within days of deadliest confrontation between the military and protestors since the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir last month.

The arrests threaten to further complicate efforts to reconcile the protest movement and the generals.

The AU had urged the ruling generals to ensure a smooth transition of power, but the brutal crackdown to disperse protesters saw pressure mount on it to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

A series of talks between the military and protesters has broken down, decreasing the likelihood of a swift transition deal.

He called for all military forces to be removed from streets across the country and demanded an worldwide probe into "the massacre at the sit-in".

"No support has been found for it among the countries of the region or in the worldwide community, and so it will remain Sudanese until its goals are realised", Faisal said, commenting on recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt by the country's military rulers.

The young soldier who had stopped and searched his vehicle on the streets of Khartoum earlier this week suddenly grabbed a shock of his hair, drew a combat knife, and sheared it off.

The UN secretary general's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq called on Sudan's military to ensure civilian safety.

After continued protests, soldiers moved in on protesters this week shooting into them. The other, wiser option is to compromise, resume talks with the protesters and facilitate a quick and orderly transition to civilian rule.