Sudan’s new university police force will be “armed and authorised to shoot students”, the unit’s chief has said.
Major General Muzammil Ahmed Mahjoub said that the 760-strong squad would initially use verbal warnings but would use live ammunition if necessary.
“The new guard will be armed and authorised to shoot students, according to the rules of the use of force, with the guidance on their application so as not to hurt anyone,” the major general told Khartoum’s National Assembly, according to Radio Dabanga.
The unit was formed after the death of two students during unrest at campuses in Khartoum and North Kordofan earlier this year. A further 11 students died in clashes between 2006 and 2012, the assembly was told.
Human rights groups expressed concern about comments made by El Ameen Dafallah, the chair of the University of Khartoum’s board, who welcomed the recruitment of “physically strong guards who are heavily armed and are allowed to open fire to maintain security at the university”.
Members of the ruling National Congress Party reportedly fear that students who support armed opposition groups are bringing weapons into the country’s universities.
But the Sudan Tribune website reported that Sumaya Abu Kosha, the country’s higher education minister, had said that the formation of the force “does not mean excessive use of force”.
She said that people should not judge the force before it starts work. “Do not put it in the corner and shoot it,” she was quoted as saying.