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Ethiopian leader in Sudan on crisis mediation effort, protesters say medical staff targeted

SMA News – Agencies
Ethiopia’s prime minister was in Khartoum on Friday to meet the chief of Sudan’s ruling military council in a bid to ease the political crisis that has followed the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April.
“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, together with his delegation, arrived in Khartoum, Sudan, this morning for talks,” Abiy’s office said on Twitter.
A diplomatic source said on Thursday that Abiy planned to meet members of both the ruling Transitional Military Council headed by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the opposition. Abiy’s exact schedule for Friday was not known.
The Ethiopian initiative follows the worst bloodshed in Sudan since Bashir was ousted by the military after four months of protests against his repressive three-decade rule.
The opposition says 113 people were killed in the storming of a civilian protest camp on Monday and a subsequent wider crackdown. The government put the toll at 61 people, including three security personnel.
The African Union on Thursday suspended Sudan until the establishment of civilian rule, intensifying global pressure on the military leaders to stand down
Both sides had been in talks over a civilian-led transition to democracy. But the already faltering negotiations collapsed in the wake of this week’s crackdown.
Abiy Ahmed, who took office in Ethiopia last year and introduced political and economic reforms, has won wide praise for his diplomacy skills, including brokering peace with his country’s neighbor and long-time foe Eritrea.
A doctors’ group linked to the protest movement said hospitals were now overcrowded with people injured in the crackdown. Five main hospitals had been shut down by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, it said.
“There is a great shortage in medical staff, mainly caused by the military militias targeting doctors and preventing them from reaching hospitals and clinics to perform their duty,” it said. “For all these reasons, more and more lives are being lost every day.”
The United Nations’ health agency also said medical staff had apparently been targeted for treating the wounded.
Some staff had been wounded themselves and some female workers reportedly raped in raids into hospitals, the U.N.’s World Health Organization said in a statement.
Emergency services were being shut down, and staff and patients had been wounded, it said. Mobile tent clinics that had been set up to treat injured protesters had been set on fire and destroyed while medical equipment had been looted.
Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the agency was gravely concerned about the impact of the violence on people in need, health workers and medical facilities.
The WHO did not say who had entered the hospitals or attacked the staff, but Amnesty International and the opposition have said the Rapid Support Forces were the main participants in the violence.
The military council has said people had put on uniforms of the Rapid Support Forces to impersonate them in an attempt to harm their reputation. Monday’s raid was targeting criminals in an area next to the camp and but got out of hand, it said.

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