Footage shows Sudanese security forces firing towards schoolchildren
Footage has emerged on social media which shows Sudanese security forces firing a heavy machine gun in the direction of marching schoolchildren in the southern city of El-Obeid where activists said at least five people were killed on Monday.
At least four of those killed and several others who were critically injured were schoolchildren who had been participating in the student-led march, the activist-aligned Sudanese Doctors' Committee (SDC) said in a statement.
The SDC said those killed and injured had been shot by snipers from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary force which has played a leading role in quashing protests against Sudan’s ruling transitional military council.
But several videos of the scene posted from different angles show a member of the security forces firing a truck-mounted heavy machine gun, commonly known as a “Dushka” towards the protesters from close range.
The truck is marked with a skull and crossed swords insignia and a windscreen sticker reads "Playing with the big guys is tough". Rocket-propelled grenades are also visible hanging on the side of the vehicle.
The footage shows the member of the security forces behind the gun rolling up his sleeves and then raising the gun at an angle to fire over the heads of those at the front of the crowd. Sustained gunfire can then be heard.
In one video filmed from the front of the crowd, another member of the security forces points in the direction of the camera and the gunmen swings the weapon round to point straight towards it, at which point the person filming appears to start running.
The location visible in the footage of the shooting is consistent with other footage of the student protest posted online.
The truck is parked alongside the Sudanese French Bank building two blocks north of the El-Obeid Great Mosque in the city centre.
On Tuesday, the head of the transitional military council condemned the shooting of protesters as a crime.
"What happened in El-Obeid is a regrettable and upsetting matter and the killing of peaceful citizens is unacceptable and rejected and a crime that requires immediate and deterrent accountability," Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the SUNA state news agency.
A curfew is still in place in several towns in North Kordofan province, where the governor on Monday ordered all schools to suspend classes.
On Tuesday, Sudanese authorities extended that order, closing all schools nationwide indefinitely, after crowds of students launched demonstrations against Monday's attack.
Sudan's main protest group has called for nationwide demonstrations on Tuesday to condemn what it described as a "massacre".
"We call on our people to take to the streets. To denounce the El-Obeid massacre, to demand the perpetrators be brought to justice," the Sudanese Professionals Association said.
Negotiators for the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella protest movement, have also said they will not be holding planned talks with the country's ruling generals on Tuesday because they are still in El-Obeid and will only return tonight.
Hundreds of schoolchildren had been marching through the city's main market on Monday morning when the shooting occured.
A resident told the AFP news agency that the protests were prompted by fuel and bread shortages.
"School children were affected as there is no transport to help them reach their schools. Today, they staged a rally and when it reached downtown there were shots fired," the resident said.
A live-stream broadcast on Facebook shortly after the firing showed protesters carrying the body of a dead schoolchild to his family home and hundreds gathering for funeral prayers.