Sudan’s army deployed around its Khartoum headquarters Monday as thousands of protesters urging the military to join calls for leader Omar al-Bashir’s resignation defied tear gas to demonstrate for a third day, witnesses said.
Since protests erupted across Sudan in December agents of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and riot police have cracked down on demonstrators, but the army has not intervened.
Protesters have since Saturday camped out around the army complex which also houses Bashir’s residence and the defence ministry in the biggest anti-government demonstrations for months.
Witnesses said soldiers were putting up barricades in streets near the compound after NISS personnel and police failed to dislodge the demonstrators.
Several vehicles carrying intelligence agency members and riot police arrived in the early hours Monday at the protest site, witnesses told AFP.
“After that, security forces began firing tear gas at protesters,” a witness said on condition of anonymity.
Gunshots were also heard, witnesses said, but it was not clear who fired the shots.
The gas was felt by residents in an upscale Khartoum district some five kilometres away from the army complex.
“I stepped out on my balcony hearing the sound of the gas canisters and could feel the gas in the air,” said one resident.
A few hours later security personnel again fired tear gas at the demonstrators, witnesses said.
Protest organisers urged the residents of Khartoum and nearby areas to join the demonstrators who have been on the streets for three days straight.
“Security forces of the regime are trying to disperse the sit in by force,” the organisers called the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.
“We call on all people around Khartoum to gather there to protect our people on the ground.”