(Updates with comment by students in third, sixth paragraphs.)
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese police raided Khartoum University today, arresting about 400 students, said Ahmed Samir, spokesman for Sudan Change Now, a youth movement in the North African country.
Police cars cordoned off the university’s dormitory and closed all roads leading to the campus, Samir said in a phone interview from the capital, Khartoum. All of the students in the dormitory were escorted out of the university by armed policemen, he said.
“The streets looked like a military occupied city,” said Muhammad Salah, a fifth-year student who witnessed the raid. “I watched the police using excessive violence, metal rods and batons, beating students and confiscating their belongings.”
Sudan’s human rights record deteriorated last year with the eruption of new armed conflicts and crackdowns on students, rights advocates and the media, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Jan 22. At least 73 students were arrested last month during a sit-in at Khartoum University to protest police violence and demand the overthrow of the government. The university suspended exams and lectures inside the university on Jan. 2 and cordoned off the campus.
Sudanese police entered the campus for the first time on Dec. 22, using tear gas and batons to disperse about 700 students protesting in support of people displaced by the Merowe Dam, north of Khartoum. The clashes continued until Dec. 25 before about 16,000 students started the sit-in.
“They think they’ll suffocate us by this, but history says the more they crack down, the stronger the movement,” Samir said.
Sudanese police spokesman Al-Ser Ahmed Omar didn’t answer his mobile phone when called seeking comment.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Hilton Shone, Ben Holland.
To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Khartoum via Nairobi at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at firstname.lastname@example.org.