Former Sudan spy service men open fire in protest at dismissal terms
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Dismissed former employees of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) shot in the air in Khartoum on Tuesday in protest at severance terms, prompting a heavy security force deployment and the temporary closure of the country's air space.
A Reuters witness saw members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan's most powerful paramilitary group, and the army deploy in Khartoum's main streets and shut down roads after gunmen opened fire outside buildings used by NISS.
In a televised statement, Information Minister Faisal Mohamed Saleh said the gunmen were former employees angry at the terms they had been offered on being dismissed.
The authorities "continue their efforts to persuade the rebellious units to surrender and handover their arms," Saleh said, adding that there were no casualties.
Security forces blocked the road leading to one of the buildings, the witness added. The district is close to the capital's airport.
Authorities closed the country’s airspace for five hours as a precautionary measure after the start of the shooting, a civil aviation ministry spokesman said.
Sudan is undergoing a three-year political transition overseen by civilians and the military following the overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.
Restructuring NISS was one of the key demands of the uprising that called for Bashir's removal from power. The dismissals were part of the plan to restructure the intelligence agency.
Masked members of NISS dressed in military uniform set up checkpoints in one of Khartoum's main residential streets near the building and were seen firing shots into the air, one of the witnesses said.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the country's main protest group, called on state agencies to intervene immediately to stop "these irresponsible operations that are causing terror amongst citizens."
Unverified video footage posted on social media purporting to show the area where the clashes occurred featured sounds of gunfire.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, Eltayeb Siddig and Nayera Abdallah Mahmoud, writing by Amina Ismail; editing by Ulf Laessing, John Stonestreet, William Maclean)
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