KHARTOUM: Sudan pointed to “fake” victim photos and foreign interference Monday as it defended a deadly crackdown on protesters, which drew fresh criticism from inside the ruling party as rallies continued.
With reporters complaining of stepped-up censorship, numerous videos and photographs purporting to show bloodied victims have circulated on YouTube, Facebook and other social media since the demonstrations began eight days ago, sparked by a rise in fuel prices.
“Most of the pictures on social media websites are from Egypt,” Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamad told a news conference.
Authorities say 34 people have died since gay and diesel prices jumped more than 60 percent on Sept. 23, sending thousands into the streets in the worst urban unrest in the history of President Omar al-Bashir’s 24-year reign.
Activists and international human rights groups said at least 50 people were gunned down, most of them in the greater Khartoum area.
The real toll was difficult to determine but “could be as much as 200,” a foreign diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Khartoum governor Abdul-Rahman al-Khidir told the news conference alongside Hamad that police only opened fire to defend their stations.
Hamad said “criminal” attacks – separate from the peaceful protests – had been launched on police facilities and gas stations.
“They used the same tactics that the Darfur rebels are using in Darfur,” where a decadelong insurgency has raged, Hamad said.
Analyst Magdi El Gizouli has dismissed as “nonsense” government suggestions of rebel links to protests in the impoverished country, where people have endured two years of soaring prices.
Eight days after demonstrations began in a rural area south of the capital, rallies continued Monday.
Police fired tear gas into the campus of Ahfad University for Women, where between 150 and 200 students were demonstrating “against the government and things like that,” university President Gasim Badri told AFP.
He said police did not enter the campus in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman but lobbed tear gas from outside.
In the town of Atbara north of the capital, police used tear gas against about 400 demonstrators, witnesses there said.