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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A Sudanese official says security forces have contained an armed protest from within the security apparatus, amid reports of unrest.
Sudan’s minister of information, Faisal Mohamed Salah, called on “rebellious forces” to hand over their weapons in a televised statement. He said that the unrest that started earlier that day in the capital, Khartoum, and another city had so far not led to any casualties among security forces or civilians.
There was heavy gunfire in the Sudanese capital as agents of the country's long-feared National Intelligence and Security Service rejected financial compensation offered as part of a restructuring plan proposed by the new authorities.
The NISS was renamed the Directorate of General Intelligence Service under the restructuring plan that sought to remove the powerful and feared security arm of longtime Islamist autocrat Omar Al Bashir.
NISS agents were at the forefront of a crackdown against protesters during the nationwide uprising that erupted against Bashir in December 2018 and led to his ouster by the army in April.
Witnesses reported that gunfire broke out at the agency's bases Khartoum North and another area of the city.
All streets leading to the two bases were cordoned off, causing traffic jams, witnesses said.
An AFP correspondent said several vehicles carrying soldiers and troops from the country's Rapid Support Forces had headed towards the bases.
A statement issued by the security agency said it was "assessing the situation".
"In the process of restructuring NISS there are some members who have rejected the financial compensation offered for retirement," it said.
A security source told AFP that the first shooting broke out in the city of Al Obeid after which gunfire erupted in the agency's bases in Khartoum.
"Negotiations are now on to solve the issue as they have financial demands," the source said on condition of anonymity.
Authorities also closed the capital's airport, the civil aviation authority said.
"Khartoum airport has been closed for five hours until 8 pm local time for security reasons," spokesman Abdelhafiz Abdelrahim told AFP.
Video posted on social media showed the heavy deployment of security forces in some areas of Khartoum.
Sudan is in a transition period after an uprising last summer deposed longtime autocrat Al Bashir. Since then, the country has been led by a transitional government led by technocrat Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and a military council.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the main organization behind the protest movement that ousted Al Bashir, urged people to stay indoors until the disturbance was settled.
It said it rejected “any attempt to foment chaos, intimate citizens and deploy weapons,” and demanded immediate state intervention.
The group also reported a sudden blackout of state-run media. It called on all Sudanese and foreigners to steer clear of all military zones “in anticipation of armed clashes that may occur, due to high tensions.”
Updated: January 14, 2020 08:00 PM
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