KHARTOUM (AFP) -- Sudanese forces opened fire killing seven protesters in one of the deadliest recent mass rallies against a military coup, with UN Security Council members urging Khartoum to exercise the “utmost restraint”.
The latest violence, which took place in the capital as well as in other major cities, comes ahead of a key visit by U.S. diplomats.
UN special representative Volker Perthes condemned the “continued use of live ammunition” to put down the protests, confirming at least seven people killed and “scores injured”.
The seven deaths brings to 71 the number of protesters killed since the army’s October 25 takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The military power grab triggered international condemnation, and derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule following the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.
Protesters -- sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands -- have regularly taken to the streets despite the security clampdown and periodic cuts to communications since the coup.
On Monday, anti-coup medics said three protesters were shot dead by “militias of the putschist military council”, while later, the independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors reported four more were killed during a “massacre by the coup authorities.”
Medics reported multiple were wounded by “live rounds”.
Sudan’s mainstream civilian bloc, the Forces for Freedom and Change, called for “civil disobedience” following what they also dubbed a “massacre”.
In protests in Khartoum, as well as its North Khartoum suburb and twin city Omdurman across the Nile, security officers deployed in large numbers, firing volleys of tear gas at protesters.
Several people were seen suffering breathing difficulties and others bleeding due to wounds by tear gas canisters, an AFP correspondent said.
Demonstrators used rocks and burning tires to create roadblocks, demanding the soldiers go back to their barracks, and chanting slogans in favor of civilian rule, witnesses said.
At nightfall, hundreds of protesters remained on the streets in several parts of Khartoum, while pro-democracy activists led online calls to keep up the demonstrations.
Burhan held an emergency meeting with security chiefs, who blamed the “chaos” on protesters who “deviated from legitimate peaceful demonstration”, and vowed to hold to account those involved in “violations” during protests, according to a statement by Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council.