Talodi — A force of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked people living near gold mines in Talodi locality in South Kordofan on Monday.
Environmental protection activist Khalid Mohamed told Radio Dabanga from El Tagola that members of the RSF government militia arrived in 27 vehicles from the South Kordofan capital of Kadugli yesterday, and attacked the residents living near the El Tagola and El Laffa mines.
"They frightened them by shooting in the air and beat them with whips," he said. "They detained six men, Salah El Riyal, Ibrahim El Sheikh, Somi Ahmed, Humeidan Omdala and two others, and took them to the RSF offices in El Tagola.
In a statement later on Monday, the Sudanese Professionals Association of Talodi condemned "the oppression, intimidation, and detention of citizens near El Tagola and El Laffa mines carried out by the RSF militia".
The Association holds the authorities "fully responsible" for the violence, and called on the Sudanese army "to intervene and protect the people, and immediately release the detainees".
South Kordofan Governor Maj Gen Rashad Abdelhameed ordered the closure of all mining plants in the state on September 11, in reaction to pressure from environmental health activists and protesting residents worried about the hazards of the highly toxic mercury and cyanide used to extract gold from ore. The mining companies however refused to implement the governor's order. Concerned residents of Talodi and Kalogi continued to protest.
On Thursday last week, angry protestors stormed four gold mining plants in the area and torched offices and vehicles of the companies operating them. The director of the Information Department of the Sovereign Council commented on Friday that "armed sabotage groups" attacked mining companies and an RSF base near Talodi.
Residents of Talodi staged a massive march on Monday, denouncing the statements by the military official about the violence in the locality last week.
Environmental activist Mohamed reported that the march was launched from the sit-in in the town and headed towards the Talodi military garrison. "The march was peaceful. Nobody carried weapons, but the protestors were faced by gunfire from members of the security apparatus," he said. "A number of people were injured."
He further told this station that after the violence last Thursday, "toxic substances used by the gold mining companies to handle mining waste are now out in the open, inside damaged stores, or loaded in vehicles without any protection, which poses a danger to the people in the locality.
"The police of Kalogi for instance confiscated two vehicles loaded with cyanide seized after the events," he added.
Lt Gen Shamseldin Kabashi, member of Sudan's Sovereign Council, stressed the need to restore the "prestige of the nation", protect the people, and to halt any new encroachment on state institutions.
During his visit to Kadugli, capital Kabashi called for a meeting with members of the South Kordofan state security committee headed by Acting Governor Abdelhameed.
Kabashi also promised to meet the state's basic commodity needs, pledging to increase its quota of flour.
The Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) expressed its solidarity with the residents of Talodi locality in a statement on Monday. The party's Political Bureau offered its "full support for the continuation of the peaceful sit-ins and protest marches until the departure of the disastrous mining companies that use toxic substances harmful to the environment in the area and the rest of Sudan".
Furthermore, the "criminals who opened fire on peaceful protesters" must be held accountable.
The party renewed its rejection of the use of cyanide and other chemicals in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, the Northern State, and other in gold mining areas in the country, described these substances as "harmful to humans and animals.
"They are causing pollution of water sources, miscarriages, foetal deformities, kidney failure, and cancer, killing livestock, and damaging trees and plants".