By Devin Watkins
Civilian protesters fled in fear as Sudanese security forces fired off rounds of live ammunition.
The assault on the months-old sit-in camp at the heart of Khartoum began early Monday morning.
Troops set fire to demonstrators’ tents and the sound of gunfire filled the air. Videos posted online showed people running through the streets and ducking for cover.
By midday, security forces had taken control of nearly the entire camp, sealing off the area.
Sporadic unrest flared around the capital after news of the crackdown spread. Smoke was seen rising from various locations around Khartoum, and reports emerged of protesters blocking a bridge across the Nile river with burning tires.
Heart of protest movement
The camp had become the epicenter of a movement that is seeking to bring democratic reform to Sudan.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators set up the camp outside the Sudanese military headquarters in April, following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.
Negotiations between protest leaders and military officials have sought to decide the makeup of a transitional government.
Protesters are calling for “limited military representation” in a sovereign council to lead Sudan until civilian rule takes over in three years.
An Italian journalist who is expert on Sudan told Vatican Radio that a strike last week showed the protesters’ strength and vast social appeal.
Raffaele Masto said the crackdown was expected to start from one minute to the next after the 2-day strike was widely-observed throughout the country.
The United States and several European nations are calling on Sudan’s military to halt their violent suppression of protesters and civilians.