US sanctions Sudan's Central Reserve Police over protest crackdown

Treasury Department accuses group of firing live rounds at protesters

Sudanese anti-coup protesters take part in demonstrations against the military in Khartoum. AFP
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The US on Monday imposed sanctions on Sudan's Central Reserve Police, accusing it of using excessive force on peaceful protesters demonstrating against last October's military coup.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that the Central Reserve Police, a division of the wider police force, has been at the forefront of the “violent response” of Sudanese security forces to peaceful protests in Khartoum.

Pointing to a single day in January, it accused the group of firing live ammunition and, along with anti-riot police and regular police, chasing protesters trying to flee, arresting and beating some, and fatally shooting two and injuring others.

“Since the October 25 military takeover, Sudan’s Central Reserve Police has used excessive force and violence intended to silence civilian activists and protesters,” Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.

“We condemn Sudan’s security services for killing, harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a separate statement called for an immediate end to violence against peaceful protesters.

“We remain poised to use all tools at our disposal to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of a democratic, human rights-respecting and prosperous Sudan,” Mr Blinken said.

Military leaders have said peaceful protests are allowed and that casualties will be investigated.

Sudan has been rocked for months by protests organised by neighbourhood-based resistance committees. About 88 people have been killed in the crackdown on protests and thousands have been injured, many by gunfire.

The Central Reserve Police, a heavily armed division of Sudan's police force, was used during the early 2000s Darfur war, during which Khartoum put down a rebellion in the western region.

An estimated 300,000 people were killed in the war and the president at the time, Omar Al Bashir, and aides face war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: March 21, 2022, 5:51 PM