Sudanese security forces have killed at least three anti-coup protesters, medics and an activist have said, as thousands of people rallied across Sudan to denounce military rule.
Protesters gathered in several cities on Thursday in the first widescale demonstration since Abdalla Hamdok announced his resignation as prime minister.
The rallies were the latest in a series of protests since Sudan’s armed forces, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, staged a power grab on October 25, sparking international condemnation.
In Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, two protesters were killed, while in the Sudanese capital’s district of Bahri one demonstrator was shot and killed, according to activist Nazim Sirag and the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD).
The coup, which saw the civilian leadership removed and detained, derailed a rocky transition towards democracy that had started after the April 2019 removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.
The CCSD said the first unidentified protester was killed after taking a “live bullet to the head by the putschist forces as he took part in demonstrations” in Omdurman.
The second, who also has not been identified, “was hit by a live bullet to the pelvis” during the Omdurman protests while the third was killed in North Khartoum due to “live bullets to the chest,” they added.
There was no immediate comment from security forces.
The deaths come a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had appealed for Sudanese security forces to “cease using lethal force against demonstrators & commit to an independent investigation”.
Thursday’s killings brought the overall death toll since the military coup to 60, the CCSD said.
Thursday’s protests went ahead despite heightened security and the closure of main streets leading to the presidential palace and the army headquarters.
Internet and mobile services also appeared to be disrupted across the country from late morning, Reuters news agency journalists and internet blockage observatory NetBlocks reported.
Protesters in the capital were beating drums, chanting revolutionary songs and holding up posters of people killed since the coup, according to witnesses.
Demonstrations also erupted in Port Sudan in the east, Atbara in the north and Wad Madani in the south, witnesses said.
“Our marches will continue until we restore our revolution and our civilian government,” said Mojataba Hussein, a 23-year-old protester, in Khartoum.
Another demonstrator, 22-year-old Samar al-Tayeb, pledged, “We will not stop until we get our country back.”
“We will occupy the streets once more, heading for the tyrant’s palace, rejecting military rule, and adhering to peacefulness, our strongest weapon,” said a statement from resistance committees organising protests from Bahri.
On Sunday, the post-al-Bashir civilian leader, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, resigned, leaving the military fully in charge.
He was previously deposed and put under house arrest in the October 25 coup, but had returned to government on November 21 under a deal signed with al-Burhan – a move the protest movement rejected as a “betrayal” and a fig leaf for army rule.
In his resignation speech, Hamdok warned that Sudan was at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival”.
On Tuesday, the United States, European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom warned the military against naming their own successor to Hamdok, saying they would “not support a prime minister or government appointed without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders”.
The protest movement has insisted on a fully civilian government to lead the transition towards elections, a demand rejected by the generals who said power will be handed over only to an elected government.
Elections are planned for July 2023.
Al-Burhan, head of the governing Sovereign Council, said an independent cabinet with “specific tasks” would be formed as the executive branch of the transitional government.
The military, he said, would “protect the democratic transition” until Sudan is able to hold free and fair elections.