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Eastern Sudan Protest Turns Deadly

Kassala Sudan
Kassala Sudan

Supporters of new Kassala state Governor Saleh Ammar allegedly shot and killed four protesters and injured six others Thursday in eastern Sudan’s Kassala town, according to eyewitnesses. One of the six injured succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital Friday, witnesses said.

The protesters say Ammar is unqualified for the job and are calling on Sudan’s leaders to replace him.

Assistant lecturer at Kassala University Ibrahim Hassan told South Sudan in Focus that after Ammar’s supporters attacked his opponents, some people took advantage of the chaos by looting shops.

“They broke into shops, burned down the market and they also looted property. They moved to a Republic Square in the town, and they departed to their homes. In the evening, a group of Beni Amir retaliated, and they randomly broke into shops in the market and in neighborhoods and looted a lot of property,” Hassan told VOA.

Amar is a member of the Beni Amir community, one of several ethnic communities in Kassala.

Heavy security was deployed to the eastern Al Gash side of the town, and no one was allowed to venture outside, according to Hassan.

“Everybody is indoors or within their neighborhoods. Life is totally paralyzed here in Kassala; all other shops are closed. No one is allowed to cross Al Gash bridge to the west and everybody is living in fear,” Hassan said.

Abdallah Obshar, one of the organizers of the opposition protest in Kassala town, said a group of armed supporters of Governor Ammar attacked peaceful demonstrators. The protesters believe Ammar should be replaced because he is not qualified to lead the state, Obshar said.

“If we look at the qualification criteria on his appointment process, there were more than 10 candidates, some of them are Ph.D. holders and professors from universities. We are wondering how Ammar made it to this level,” Obshar told South Sudan in Focus.

Kassala resident Jalal al Deen Rabeh, who said he neither supports nor opposes Ammar, said people should be focused on economic development rather than politics.

“For nearly 40 years this state has not witnessed any development and we need someone who will come and initiate development projects. If it is Ammar or any other person, we just need a leader that would make change to happen,” Rabeh told South Sudan in Focus.

Rabeh accused supporters of ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir of causing Thursday’s violence.

Sudan’s transitional government has called for calm in Kassala and instructed security organizations to restore peace in the area.

Intercommunal fighting has continued for months in parts of eastern Sudan among the Beni Amir, Nuba, and Hadandawa communities.