At least five people have died and several others were injured after Sudanese security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters denouncing the military’s tightening grip on the country, activists said.
The violence came as thousands of pro-democracy protesters yet again took to the streets across Sudan to rally against the military’s takeover last month.
The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of the capital Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.
Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in different locations on Saturday.
At least five protesters were killed in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, including four from gunshots and one from a tear gas canister, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee. Several others also received gunshot injuries.
The rallies, called by the pro-democracy movement, came two days after coup leader Gen Abdel-Fattah Burhan reappointed himself head of the sovereign council, Sudan’s interim governing body.
Thursday’s move angered the pro-democracy alliance and frustrated the United States and other countries who have urged the generals to reverse their coup.
The Sudanese military seized power on October 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians.
The takeover upended a fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longstanding autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.
Saturday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the so-called Resistance Committees.
Both groups were primary forces behind the uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019. Other political parties and movements joined the call. The Sudan Doctors Committee is also part of the pro-democracy movement.
They movement has opposed the return to the power-sharing deal that established the deposed transitional government late in 2019 and demanded a full handover to civilians to lead the transition to democracy.
Earlier on Saturday, protesters gathered in Khartoum neighbourhoods waved Sudanese flags and posters of deposed prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, who has been under house arrest since the coup.
They also chanted “civilian, civilian,” a reference to their main demand that the generals hand over power to civilians.
Hamza Baloul, the information minister in the deposed government, took part in Saturday’s rallies following his release from detention earlier this month.
There should be “no negotiations with the coup leaders,” he told the protesters in Khartoum. “The Sudanese people insist on a civilian government … the civilian state (government) is our option and we will fight for it.”
Later, the demonstrators regrouped in Khartoum and barricaded at least one major street with stones and burning tyres. No causalities were reported.
There were also protests in other Sudanese cities and towns.
The UN envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, urged security forces to “exercise utmost restraint” and called for demonstrators to “maintain the principle of peaceful protest”.
Since the October 25 takeover, at least 15 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations.