KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survived an assassination attempt early on Monday targeting his convoy in the capital Khartoum, state television and a cabinet source said.
Hamdok, who was appointed to head a transitional government after the overthrow last year of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, was well and had been moved to a safe location, state media reported.
The attack came as Hamdok’s government is struggling to manage a severe economic crisis that triggered months of protests against Bashir, and continued after his downfall.
Images broadcast on regional TV channels and social media showed a convoy including several damaged white SUVs and a badly damaged car.
Three witnesses told Reuters the attack happened near the northern entrance to Kober bridge, which connects Khartoum North with the city center, where Hamdok’s office is.
The convoy appeared to have been targeted from above, they said. State radio said the convoy had been hit by gunfire and a projectile, while state TV said it had been targeted by a car bomb.
“I saw the moment of the explosion and the strike, and the strike came from a high building,” one eyewitness said.
Large crowds of onlookers gathered as police tried to secure the site.
Hamdok leads a government of technocrats under a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups for a transitional period due to last until late 2022.
Relations between civilians and the military have been tense, and the government has come up against resistance as it tries to implement economic reforms.
Transitional authorities are also taking steps to disempower Bashir’s supporters, including parts of the security services.
In mid-January, armed security agents linked to Bashir fought soldiers in Khartoum for several hours, after a dispute linked to severance packages.
Soon after Bashir’s ousting, authorities said they had thwarted several coup attempts by military officers.
“The attempted assassination of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is the new episode in a series of coup plots against the revolution,” Khalid Omer, a leading member of the civilian coalition that backed last year’s uprising, said on Twitter.
Hamdok is an economist and former senior U.N. official who is well connected with the international community.
Thousands of anti-military protesters have held demonstrations in recent weeks to support Hamdok and his government.
After Monday’s attack the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the anti-Bashir movement, called for further demonstrations to show unity and support for civilian rule.
Reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz; Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Aidan Lewis; Editing by Peter Graff and Ed Osmond
Image: Sudan’s Prime Minister in the transitional government Abdalla Hamdok addresses residents during his visit to the camps of El-Fashir in North Darfur, Sudan, on November 4, 2019 (REUTERS/El Tayyieb Siddig)