Sudanese security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters denouncing the military’s tightening grip on the country, killing at least six and wounding several, medics say.
The violence on Saturday came as thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across Sudan yet again to rally against the military’s takeover last month. The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.
The killings on Saturday took place in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, and the dead included five killed by gunshots and one who died “due to suffocation from tear gas”, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee.
It said that there had been reports of several other protesters wounded, including by live fire.
Sudanese police, however, denied using live ammunition against the protesters and said the demonstrators attacked several police stations and vehicles in Khartoum, leaving some 39 policemen with serious injuries.
The rallies, called by the pro-democracy movement, came two days after coup leader General Abdel-Fattah al-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 that 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 longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Saturday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the so-called Resistance Committees. Both groups were the primary forces behind the uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019.
The Sudan Doctors Committee is also part of the pro-democracy movement.
The demonstrations took place amid tight security, with authorities closing off bridges linking Khartoum’s neighbourhoods. Troops and paramilitary forces also sealed off the area around the military headquarters, where thousands of protesters set up camp in April 2019, forcing the military to remove al-Bashir.
Saturday’s deaths have brought the death toll to at least 19 protesters killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces since the October 25 coup, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations.