Sudan security forces kill 1 outside Khartoum's sit-in

BASSEM HATOUM and SAMY MAGDY

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudanese military officials said Sunday that troops were attempting to remove "drug dealers and other criminals" from an area located near a protest sit-in in the capital, Khartoum. This comes a day after a Sudanese medical union said one person was shot dead by security forces in the same area, located along the banks of the Nile river.

The man, in his 20s, was the third killed in less than a week in the area around Nile street, which the military officials described as "lawless."

On Thursday, security forces killed a 20-year-old man, while the previous day, a gunfight between security forces had erupted near the sit-in, killing a female street vendor by mistake.

The area is not far from where tens of thousands of protesters have been camped outside the military's headquarters, the epicenter of Sudan's uprising that led to the military overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

The protesters are now calling for "limited military representation" in a sovereign council that would lead the country as it transitions to civilian rule over a three-year period.

The military officials said the Nile street area was being "cleared" by forces mainly from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo — better known as Hemedti — who serves as deputy head of the ruling military council. The officials said security agencies have been attempting to carry out a "security plan to clear the area and put an end to such criminal acts." Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

The Sudan Doctors Committee said in a statement Saturday that at least 11 people were wounded when "regular forces opened fire on Nile Street near the sit-in area." The statement did not identify which forces were implicated in the fire.

The doctors committee is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the protests.

Amid these increased tensions and deadlocked transition talks, the leading opposition Umma Party warned on Sunday of an attempt to break up the sit-in and called for the military council to resume negotiations with the protesters.

"There is no choice except to negotiate... to overcome the conflicts at these critical times that threaten the state and the county's integrity," the party said in a statement.

Both sides are split over the make-up and leadership of the sovereign council, with the ruling generals refusing to relinquish power.

The protesters are represented by the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, an alliance of opposition groups and activists.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.