Clashes erupt in Sudan’s capital after bloodiest day since coup

Day after 15 people were killed, demonstrators man makeshift barricades in Khartoum in protest against the military takeover.

At least 15 people, mostly from northern Khartoum, were killed on Wednesday, according to medics [File: Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

Street confrontations have again shaken Sudan’s capital, a day after security forces shot dead 15 protesters in the bloodiest day since the military’s October 25 takeover.

On Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-coup protesters who had stayed on the streets of north Khartoum overnight, braving an intensifying crackdown that has drawn international condemnation, witnesses said.

Police tore down makeshift barricades the protesters had erected the previous day.

Later in the day, dozens of protesters returned to rebuild them and police again fired tear gas in a bid to clear the streets, witnesses said.

“Protesters responded by hurling stones at the police,” one witness told the AFP news agency.

Top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan detained the civilian leadership and declared a state of emergency on October 25.

The Sudanese military, led by al-Burhan, seized power, dissolving the transitional government arresting dozens of civilian officials and politicians, and declaring a state of emergency.

The takeover upended a fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

Last week, al-Burhan appointed a new governing Sovereign Council, replacing the country’s transitional government, which comprised of civilian and military figures.

Al-Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but a step to “rectify the course of the transition” to civilian rule.

Thousands took to the streets on Wednesday in Khartoum and other cities but were met by the deadliest crackdown since the coup.

At least 15 people, mostly from northern Khartoum, were killed on Wednesday alone, according to medics, raising the death toll of protesters to 39 in recent weeks.

“We condemn violence towards peaceful protesters and call for the respect and protection of human rights in Sudan,” said the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs on Twitter on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s demonstrations were organised despite a near-total shutdown of internet services and disruption of telephone lines across Sudan.

In a statement, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said security forces “used live bullets heavily in different areas of the capital” and that there are “tens of gunshot injuries, some of them in serious condition”.

The CCSD also said security forces had arrested injured people inside Khartoum hospitals.

By Thursday morning, phone lines had been restored but internet services remained largely cut.

Bridges connecting the capital with its neighbouring cities reopened and traffic again flowed through many streets in Khartoum.

International condemnation

The military takeover sparked a chorus of international condemnation, including punitive aid cuts, with world powers demanding a swift return to civilian rule.

The United States has suspended some $700m in assistance to Sudan in response to the coup.

Demonstrators have rallied since, despite internet outages and disruptions of communication lines, which forced activists to call upon people for protests via graffiti and SMS messages.

Since last month’s coup, more than 100 government officials and political leaders, along with a large number of demonstrators and activists, have been arrested.

Pro-democracy groups have promised to continue protesting until the return of the last Sovereign Council.

In an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this month, al-Burhan said he was committed to handing over power to a civilian government, promising not to participate in any government that comes after the transitional period. But last week he announced himself as head of the new Sovereign Council.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies