Sudan protests: Deadly unrest as masses oppose the military

  • Published
Media caption,

Protesters back on the streets of Khartoum to demand end of military rule

Vast crowds have taken to the streets in Sudan to demonstrate against military rule, with reports of deaths and injuries.

The state news agency said seven people had died and 181 were hurt, citing the health ministry.

The pro-opposition Central Committee of Sudan Doctors spoke of at least five protesters being killed.

Sudan has been in turmoil since the military ousted President Omar al-Bashir in April.

That followed a popular uprising against his rule. Mr Bashir seized power in a coup on 30 June 1989.

Sunday's protest has been the biggest since dozens were killed in a crackdown on pro-democracy activists on 3 June.

Tens of thousands defied the heavy presence of troops to demand that the ruling military council hand power to a civilian-led administration.

The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said four people were killed in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman while one protester died after being hit by a bullet in the chest in the town of Atbara.

"There are several seriously wounded by the bullets of the military council militias in hospitals of the capital and the provinces," it added.

The deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said: "There are snipers who are firing on people, they shot three members of the Rapid Support Force and five or six citizens. There are infiltrators, people who want to jeopardise progress."

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Women have played a leading role in the protests in the mainly Muslim state

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace and three other districts in Khartoum, AFP reported.

Tear gas was also fired in Omdurman and the eastern town of Gadaref.

"We are here for the martyrs of the [June 3] sit-in. We want a civilian state that guarantees our freedom. We want to get rid of military dictatorship," one 23-year-old protester named only as Zeinab told AFP.

'Massive show of strength'

By Mohanad Hashim, BBC Sudan analyst

Media caption,

Meet Sudan's young protesters prepared to die to keep the country's revolution alive.

If the military thought it could scare protesters, it was wrong. The protests are a massive show of strength by the pro-democracy movement.

It has pulled off the biggest demonstration since the junta took power, despite an internet blackout and the security forces blocking bridges to prevent people from joining marches.

Some are saying that hundreds of thousands rallied across Sudan, more than the number who took to the streets before Omar al-Bashir was ousted by his former allies in the military. The junta is clearly on the back foot - and has said it is prepared to resume talks with the opposition.

But many wonder whether it can be trusted.

On Saturday, paramilitary forces broke up a news conference called by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), one of the main organisers of the protest.

The military said it would hold the opposition responsible for any violence or loss of life in the protests.

Gen Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, warned of "vandals" and a "concealed agenda" that might take advantage of the demonstrations.

Gen Dagalo was formerly an ally of Mr Bashir but switched sides to force him out of power.

He commands one of Sudan's most prominent paramilitary forces and has been accused of both human rights abuses in the conflict in Darfur and of using the paramilitaries to crack down on protesters on 3 June.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Protesters have hailed those killed by the security forces as martyrs

Talks between the TMC and the opposition collapsed after the 3 June crackdown, when security forces violently suppressed protests in Khartoum.

They have not resumed despite mediation by the African Union (AU) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.