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The United States has imposed sanctions on Sudan’s Central Reserve Police, accusing it of using excessive force against peaceful protesters demonstrating against last October’s military coup.

The US Department of the Treasury said in a statement on Monday the Central Reserve Police, a heavily armed division of Sudan’s police force, has been at the forefront of the “violent response” of Sudanese security forces to peaceful protests in Khartoum.

Pointing to a single day in January, it accused the group of firing live ammunition and, along with anti-riot police and regular police, chasing protesters trying to flee, arresting and beating some, and fatally shooting two and injuring others.

“Since the October 25 military takeover, Sudan’s Central Reserve Police has used excessive force and violence intended to silence civilian activists and protesters,” the Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

“We condemn Sudan’s security services for killing, harassing, and intimidating Sudanese citizens.”

Today, OFAC designated the Sudanese Central Reserve Police for serious human rights abuse, including using excessive force against pro-democracy protesters peacefully demonstrating against the military-led overthrow of the civilian-led transitional govt.

— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) March 21, 2022

Regular protests calling for civilian rule have taken place since a military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, with heavy-handed crackdowns leaving 87 dead, according to medics, the AFP news agency reported.

The October coup derailed a fragile power-sharing agreement between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

A police spokesman could not be reached for comment. Military leaders have said peaceful protests are allowed and that protest-related casualties will be investigated.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a separate statement called for an immediate end to violence against peaceful protesters.

“We remain poised to use all tools at our disposal to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of a democratic, human rights-respecting, and prosperous Sudan,” Blinken said.

Monday’s so-called “Global Magnitsky sanctions”, which target those accused of corruption, human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions around the world, freeze any US assets of the Central Reserve Police and bar Americans from dealing with them.

Western countries and international financing institutions suspended billions of dollars in foreign aid after the coup and military commanders have yet to appoint a prime minister to tackle the economic crisis.

The Central Reserve Police, was used during the early 2000s Darfur war, during which the Khartoum government put down a rebellion in the western region. An estimated 300,000 people were killed in the war, and then-President Omar al-Bashir and aides face war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court.

The force, known locally as “Abu Tayra”, referring to the bird that forms a part of their recognisable logo, have been deployed frequently, along with other security forces, in recent months following the coup.

Members of the forces could be seen among a heavy deployment in central Khartoum during protests on Monday, Reuters reported. Protesters faced tear gas, stun grenades, and red water sprays as they attempted to march towards the presidential palace.

This content was originally published here.