31, July 2019
Officials in Sudan have ordered the shutdown of schools across the country amid an escalation of tensions over the killing of five students.
Snipers allegedly shot dead the five high school students while they were taking part in a protest rally against fuel and bread shortages in al-Obeid City on Monday.
Late on Tuesday, authorities ordered all schools nationwide to suspend classes.
“Orders have been given to governors of all states to shut kindergartens, primary, and high schools from tomorrow (Wednesday) until further notice,” the official SUNA news agency said, following a directive issued by the ruling military council.
On the streets in the capital, Khartoum, crowds of students rallied, waving flags and chanting, “The people want to fight for the rights of martyrs.”
“We keep silent all the time and they kill us,” said Enas Saifeddine, a 16-year-old high school student. “The five students of al-Obeid were killed because they were asking for something basic like food, water, and electricity.”
The killings, which have caused outrage across the country and beyond, are attributed to the tribal paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The United Nations (UN) has called for an investigation into the killings. The UN’s children agency, UNICEF, has urged Sudanese officials “to investigate and hold all perpetrators of violence against children accountable.”
Meanwhile, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the ruling military council, has condemned the killings.
“What happened in al-Obeid is sad. Killing peaceful civilians is an unacceptable crime that needs immediate accountability,” he told journalists, quoted by state television.
The military council has been in power since April, when generals ousted long-time president Omar al-Bashir in the midst of protests against him.
But the Sudanese did not stop protesting. They have since been expressing their disapproval of military rule in demonstrations across the country. Bashir himself had risen to power in a coup.