Reports on social media and claims by Sudanese pro-democracy organisations said three protesters were killed as security forces opened fire on massive demonstrations across the country against last week’s military coup.
The three casualties were reported as unarmed demonstrators who had gathered with others outside the country’s parliament building in Omdurman.
Pro-coup security forces have used live ammunition and teargas in several locations in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman as well as in the city of Nyala.
The killings came as hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people took to the streets on Saturday in a huge show of opposition to Monday’s military coup.
Despite a large security presence, protesters in Khartoum and Omdurman marched, in scenes that were repeated around the country, from El-Obeid to Atbara and Port Sudan, calling for a restoration of civilian rule.
All the roads leading to the military headquarters and the presidential palace in Khartoum were being guarded by hundreds of army soldiers and intelligence officials in plain clothes carrying sticks who were stopping people to question them.
The protests came almost a week after the military detained Sudan’s civilian leadership, dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, prompting a chorus of international condemnation.
Carrying Sudanese flags, protesters in Khartoum chanted, “No, no to military rule” and “We are free revolutionaries and we will continue the road” of democratic transition. Others called on the coup leader, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to be sent to the country’s Kobar prison.
The fatalities, reported by Sudan’s Doctors Committee, took place as marchers approached the parliament building in Omdurman and were met with teargas and bullets.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the committee said: “Militias with the coup are now using live fire on demonstrators in Omdurman and other areas of the rebellious capital,” adding that there had been three deaths and others wounded.
Elsewhere, troops blocking one of the Nile bridges into Khartoum fired in the air to try to disperse crowds gathering there.
The scale of the protests, which came together despite a campaign of arrests and the shutdown of the internet and mobile phone networks, is the most serious challenge to the military’s seizure of power.
As security forces set up checkpoints and blocked bridges in Khartoum, marchers assembled in a number of areas, with some reportedly converging close to the city’s 60th Street, a main thoroughfare that runs parallel to the Blue Nile.
At least one image posted on social media also appeared to show a new barbed wire barrier constructed by security forces blocking one of the city’s main highways.
With bridges and roads closed, some marchers said they planned to head to different locations if they could not reach their planned destination.
The marches began as the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, warned that Sudan’s security forces must respect human rights, adding that any violence against peaceful demonstrators was “unacceptable”.
The US continues to stand with “Sudan’s people in their nonviolent struggle for democracy”, he said in a tweet.
The demonstrations came as Burhan announced he would appoint a technocrat prime minister to rule alongside the generals. The scale of the opposition’s “march of millions” will be seen as a key indicator of the military’s grip.
Burhan has insisted that the military’s takeover is “not a coup”, but only meant to “rectify the course of the Sudanese transition”. (Source: The Guardian)