Sudanese opposition says about 20 people were killed in a sit-in protest in front of the Ministry of Defense

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — About 20 people were killed and dozens wounded in attacks carried out on Friday at a sit-in for protesters demanding President Omar al-Bashir to step down in front of Khartoum’s defense ministry, the main opposition party said on Tuesday.

Mahdi also called for “the handover of power to a selected military leadership qualified to negotiate with representatives of the people to build a new order qualified to achieve peace and democracy.”

His remarks came as thousands of protesters continued the fourth day of sit-in in front of the complex located in central Khartoum, which includes the Ministry of Defense and the residence of al-Bashir and the security services.

Witnesses said members of Sudan’s national security and intelligence service fired bullets into the air in a fresh attempt on Tuesday to disperse protestors in front of the Ministry of Defense.

Opposition doctors said the number of people killed since the start of the sit-in had reached 21, including five soldiers and more than 150 wounded. The Ministry of the Interior was not immediately available for comment.

Sudan has been under protests since December when the government lifted bread prices and protests turned into the biggest challenge to Bashir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989.

On Monday, the Interior Ministry said 39 people, including three members of the security forces, had been killed since the protests began on December 19. Activists have estimated the death toll at more than 60.

A Reuters witness said earlier on Tuesday that youths were blocking Nile Street, a major artery in the capital with several ministries. The protesters used metal barriers to stop traffic on the street, about one kilometer from the presidential palace.

A Reuters witness said soldiers were guarding the presidential palace in armored vehicles, but they were not moving against the demonstrators.

Omar Salih Sennar, a senior leader of the Sudanese Professionals Gathering, the main organizer of the anti-government protests, called on protesters on Tuesday to continue their sit-in outside the defense ministry in Khartoum.

“We want to form a civilian transitional government and we will not negotiate with the Bashir government,” he told Reuters.

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