- Seven protesters were killed Monday by Sudanese forces in the latest deadly violence against a military coup ahead of a key visit by US diplomats.
- Several were injured during the mass rally, while a UN special envoy warned against using live ammunition to beat protesters.
- The latest killing brings the death toll at protesters to 71 since the army took over in October.
Sudanese forces opened fire on Monday in one of the deadliest mass demonstrations against a military coup, killing seven protesters. UN Security Council members urged Khartoum to exercise “extreme restraint.”
The latest violence, which has taken place in both the capital and other major cities, comes ahead of a key visit by US diplomats as Washington seeks to broker an end to the months-long crisis in the northeast African nation.
UN special envoy Volker Perthes condemned the “continued use of live ammunition” to quell the protests and confirmed at least seven dead and “numerous wounded”, while the US embassy in Khartoum criticized “the violent tactics used by the Sudanese security forces”.
Nine members of the UN Security Council, including Britain and France, called on all parties to “refrain from the use of force” and stressed the importance of “peaceful assemblies and freedom of expression”.
The seven deaths on Monday bring the number of protesters killed to 71 since the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took power on October 25.
The military takeover sparked international condemnation and derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule after the ouster of longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Protesters — sometimes in the tens of thousands — have taken to the streets regularly since the coup, despite crackdowns by security forces and periodic disruptions in communications.
On Monday, anti-coup medics said three protesters were shot dead by “militia from the coup-makers’ Military Council,” while the independent Central Committee of Sudanese doctors later reported four others were killed in a “coup-makers’ massacre.”
Medics reported several were wounded by “live rounds”.
Sudan’s mainstream civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change, called for “civil disobedience” after what they dubbed a “massacre.”
Security officials were deployed in large numbers and fired volleys of tear gas at protesters during protests in Khartoum, as well as in its North Khartoum suburb and its twin city of Omdurman across the Nile.
Several people were having trouble breathing and others were bleeding from tear gas canister wounds, an AFP correspondent said.
Demonstrators used rocks and flaming tires to set up roadblocks, urged soldiers to return to their barracks and chanted slogans in favor of civilian rule, witnesses said.
As night fell, hundreds of protesters remained on the streets in several parts of Khartoum while pro-democracy activists made online calls to keep the demonstrations going.
Burhan held an emergency meeting Monday with security chiefs who blamed the “chaos” on protesters who “deviated from legitimate peaceful demonstrations” and vowed to hold accountable those involved in “violations” during the protests, according to a statement by the Sudanese government’s Sovereign Council.
Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition in confrontations with protesters and insist dozens of security forces were injured during the protests, including a police general who was stabbed to death last week.
Earlier this month, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned, saying the country is now at a “dangerous crossroads that threatens its very survival”.
US envoy to the Horn of Africa David Satterfield and Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee are expected in Sudan in the coming days to “facilitate a renewed civilian-led transition to democracy,” the US State Department said .
Washington’s push comes after the United Nations announced last week that it will begin talks with key figures to help resolve the crisis.
“Your message will be clear: The United States is committed to freedom, peace and justice for the Sudanese people,” the State Department said.
The proposed talks were welcomed by the ruling Sovereign Council, which Burhan reappointed with himself as chair after the coup.
Burhan has insisted that the military takeover was “not a coup” but was only meant to “correct” the course of the post-Bashir transition.
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