TEHRAN (Press Shia) – The number of people killed in a crackdown on protesters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum has risen to 60, an opposition group says.
Doctors in Sudan say the number of people killed since security forces stormed a protest camp in the capital has jumped to at least 60, as European countries condemned the crackdown against the pro-democracy protesters but the UN Security Council failed to reach a position.
The death toll rise came as the ruling junta said on Wednesday it was open to new negotiations with an opposition alliance.
Security forces fired live ammunition at dawn on Monday as they wiped out the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum that had for weeks become the protesters’ main rallying point in their long struggle for civilian rule.
The opposition-linked Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said on Wednesday the death toll since the operation on Monday – the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – had risen from 35 to at least 60 people, with hundreds of others wounded.
The committee said it held “the militias of the [military] council … responsible for this massacre”.
Protesters have previously singled out the Rapid Support Forces, paramilitaries with origins in the 16-year-old war in the western region of Darfur, whose commander is deputy chairman on the ruling military council.
Sudan’s military ruler on Wednesday offered to resume a dialogue on a transition to democracy, one day after he scrapped all agreements with the opposition coalition.
In a message for the Eid al-Fitr broadcast on state television, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan paid homage to the uprising that began in December and culminated with the military overthrow and arrest of President Omar al-Bashir in April. He was still ready to hand over power to an elected government, he said.
“We in the military council, extend our hands to negotiations without shackles except the interests of the homeland,” Burhan said.
He previously announced he was skipping any negotiations with protest groups and said he would organize elections within nine months.
China, Russia block statement
Separately, the Security Council met on Tuesday at the request of Britain and Germany to hear a briefing from UN envoy Nicholas Haysom, who has been working with the African Union (AU) on a solution to the crisis in Sudan.
But China, backed by Russia, blocked a bid to condemn the killing of civilians and issue an urgent call from world powers for an immediate halt to the violence, according to diplomats.
During the closed-door session, Britain and Germany circulated a press statement that would have called on the TMC and protesters to “continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis”, according to a draft seen by reporters.
But China strongly objected to the draft while Russia insisted that the council should await a response from the AU, diplomats said.
“I am told that China adamantly refused the draft statements, saying it was an internal matter,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said. “They were backed in that by Russia, and Kuwait said the draft needed amendments,” he added.
Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the proposed statement was “unbalanced” and stressed the need to be “very cautious in this situation”.
“We don’t want to promote an unbalanced statement. It could just spoil the situation,” Polyanskiy told reporters after the two-hour meeting.
After the Security Council failed to agree on a common position, eight European countries said in a joint statement that they “condemn the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians”.
Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands and Sweden said the TMC’s “unilateral announcement to cease negotiations, appoint a government and call for elections within a too short period of time is of great concern”.
The European statement added: “We call for an agreed transfer of power to a civilian-led government as demanded by the people of Sudan.
For his part, Haysom, the UN envoy, told reporters: “I don’t want to engage too much in a discussion of who should do what because we are still hoping to play a role in bringing the parties together, we haven’t given up hope that a solution is still possible.”