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Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies have challenged the account of the unrest by the Sudanese police force and say authorities have killed protestors with shots to the head and chest.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Khartoum and central Sudan to protest against corruption and demand President Omar Hassan Bashir step down.
The organisations, citing eyewitnesses, relatives of the deceased, journalists, and doctors say 50 people have been killed and 100 injured since the protests began.
“Shooting to kill – including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads – is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
A statement by security forces late on Thursday said the states of Khartoum and Gezira “witnessed unfortunate incidents which resulted in 29 cases of death among citizens and policemen.”
However, the rights groups dispute the figure and say local sources and activists have put the number of demonstrators dead in excess of 100.
Protests erupted after the Khartoum government announced a fuel price hike on Monday as part of a package of economic reforms in an effort to revive the country’s economy.
The statement by the police force added that, “some trends tried to exaggerate and double the death toll without verification of the correct figure.”
Information received by the groups suggests the Sudanese police and NISS (National Intelligence and Security Services) officers used disproportionate force – including firing tear gas and live ammunition – to disperse the demonstrations.
“The Sudanese government must immediately establish an investigation into the use of disproportionate force and allegations of the intentional killing of protestors and use of live ammunition by security forces,” said Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.
Some of the protesters have reportedly set fire to government buildings, including police stations, petrol stations and buses in Omdurman and Wad Madani.
Sudan’s economy has been suffering from difficulties after losing two thirds of oil resources following the separation with South Sudan in 2011.