UN urges probe into fatal shooting of Sudan schoolchildren at rally
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UN urges probe into fatal shooting of Sudan schoolchildren at rally

According to a doctors committee linked to the Sudanese opposition, the victims “succumbed to direct wounds from sniper bullets during a peaceful rally” against shortages of bread and fuel in the city of al-Obeid, the capital of central province of North Kurdufan, on Monday.   In a statement on Tuesday, the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) called on the authorities “to investigate and hold all perpetrators of violence against children accountable.”   “No child should be buried in their school uniform,” the statement read, saying the victims killed were between 15 and 17 years old.   The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a key protest group, said, “The Janjaweed forces and some snipers, without any mercy, confronted school students with live ammunition.”   It was referring to the African country’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a tribal militia that was originally deployed to the western region of Darfur in 2003, when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government.   Authorities announced a night-time curfew in four towns in North Kordofan state following the deaths in al-Obeid and the SPA called for nationwide rallies against the massacre.   The SPA said more than 60 people were wounded in the protest rally.   Ismail al-Taj, a protest leader at a Monday rally in the capital Khartoum said “the dead are children and that adds to the brutality of this cowardly incident.”   Calls for suspending talks with junta   The killings come as protest leaders have called for the Tuesday talks with the ruling generals to be suspended.   “We cannot sit at the negotiating table with those allowing the killing of revolutionaries,” Siddig Youssef, a prominent protest leader, said in a statement.   The talks were due to be held on the remaining aspects of installing civilian rule after the two sides inked a power-sharing deal earlier this month.   Meanwhile, Sudan’s military rulers sought to distance themselves from the incident and condemned the killing of the schoolchildren.   “Killing peaceful civilians is an unacceptable crime that needs immediate accountability," General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, told reporters on Tuesday.   The African country has been the scene of numerous protest rallies over the past seven months. On April 11, the Sudanese military unseated and then imprisoned 75-year-old president Omar al-Bashir after some four months of widespread protests over dire economic conditions and soaring prices of basic commodities.   Following the ouster of Bashir, who had come to power through a military coup in 1989, Sudanese military leaders established the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC) with the task of running state affairs.   However, generals faced popular protests, which called for a civilian body to replace the TMC.   The protest rallies against the military leaders have on many occasions turned bloody in the face of a heavy-handed crackdown.  

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