Sudan crisis: ‘Paramilitary unit’ puts Khartoum under lockdown

Sudanese paramilitary forces are pushing deeper into Khartoum, witnesses say, after a crackdown on protesters killed at least 30 people on Monday.
Heavily armed members of the Rapid Support Forces are said to be fanning out across the capital and the neighbouring city of Omdurman, clearing barricades and firing into the air.
The military has faced international condemnation for the crackdown.
It has ended a pact with the protesters over a transition to civilian rule.
The two sides had initially agreed a three-year transition, culminating in elections. On Monday, however, the military said polls would be held within nine months.
The demonstrators had argued that a longer period was needed in order to guarantee fair elections and dismantle the political network associated with the former government of President Omar al-Bashir.
Mr Bashir was overthrown by the military in April, amid pressure from the protesters. He had been president of Sudan for 30 years.
The demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters since 6 April, five days before Mr Bashir was overthrown.
Dozens died on Monday when security forces stormed protesters outside the defence ministry, doctors said.
Many Khartoum residents blamed the Rapid Support Forces for the crackdown. The paramilitary unit – formerly known as the Janjaweed – gained notoriety in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which began in 2003.
The protesters had called for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr, marked on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to be celebrated in the streets, as a gesture of defiance against the military.
On Tuesday, however, much of Khartoum seemed to be under lockdown. Video shot on mobile phones showed columns of troops advancing along the streets, removing barricades and firing into the air.
Large numbers of heavily armed troops were also reported on the streets of Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, just across the River Nile from Khartoum.
A woman, identified only as Sulaima, told the BBC that troops from the Rapid Support Forces were “all over Khartoum”.
“They’re surrounding neighbourhoods, they’re threatening people. They’re also using live ammunition. They’re everywhere. We’re not feeling safe and we don’t have trust in the security forces. It’s complete chaos.”
Flights into Khartoum have also been disrupted.