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Sudan finds mass grave of conscripts killed in 1998

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo, taken on June 13, 2020, shows members of a forensic team at a cemetery where a mass grave of conscripts killed in 1998 was discovered, in the Sahafa neighborhood, south of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's public prosecutor has announced the discovery of a mass grave east of Khartoum suspected to contain the remains of students killed in 1998 who tried escaping military service from a training camp.

The committee tasked with investigating the killings at Ailafoon military camp "found the mass grave in the past four days after hearing witness accounts", said public prosecutor Tagelsir al-Hebr, without giving details on the number of bodies found.

"The grave was exhumed and now the committee will continue to work with forensic authorities and examine the evidence," said Wael Ali Saeed, a member of the investigation committee.

The Ailafoon military camp, located southeast of the capital Khartoum, was used for training new conscripts under the rule of now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

The prosecutor said the conscripts were shot while fleeing the Ailafoon camp fearing they would be sent to southern Sudan where Bashir's regime was fighting a civil war with rebels.

Poorly trained and equipped conscripts were sent into the bush fighting against the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The students were also angry that they had been denied time to spend with their families during an Islamic holiday, according to the prosecutor.

The Sudanese government said at the time that 55 young conscripts who fled the military base drowned when their overloaded boat capsized in the Blue Nile river.

 A security man stands guard outside Sudan's Attorney General headquarters in the capital Khartoum on June 15, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Opposition groups accused the Khartoum government of carrying out the killings and reported a higher death toll of more than a 100.

Many Sudanese families reported that their sons went missing and their remains were never found.

Compulsory military service was widespread under Bashir, who used conscripts in the civil war against rebels in the oil-rich south, which seceded in 2011.

Sudan's military ousted Bashir in April 2019 following mass protests against his 30-year rule, triggered by steep price hikes on basic goods.

(Source: Agencies)

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