Doctors in Sudan say at least five protesters have been killed as tens of thousands poured onto the streets across the country to pressure the country’s ruling generals to hand over power to a civilian-led administration and seek justice for the scores of victims of a deadly military crackdown.
Dubbed the “millions march”, Sunday’s mass demonstrations were the first since security forces on June 3 killed more than 100 people during the bloody dispersal of a protest camp outside the military headquarters, the focal point of the protesters’ months-long struggle for democracy.
Protesters who spoke to Al Jazeera, which was banned by the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) from reporting in the country just a few days before the sit-in’s dispersal, said there was a “huge turnout” in the capital, Khartoum, despite a widespread internet blackout.
“They said they wanted to make their demands heard,” said Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan.
“People are also saying that the military and the riot police are using tear gas, live ammunition and stun grenades to try and disperse the crowd.”
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is linked to the protest movement, said at least five civilians, including four in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, had been killed.
“There are several seriously wounded by the bullets of the military council militias in hospitals of the capital and the provinces,” it added.
State news agency SUNA reported late on Sunday that the death toll had climbed to seven, with 181 wounded, citing a health ministry official.
Earlier in the day, reports said a protester had been shot dead in Atbara, the birthplace of the uprising that led to al-Bashir’s removal.
Images posted on social media appeared to show heightened security around the capital, with the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the group blamed by protesters for the June 3 killings deployed in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns in several Khartoum squares.
In the northern Khartoum district of Bahari and in Mamura and Arkweit, in the capital’s east, police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!”, witnesses reportedly said. Security forces were also reported to have fired tear gas at demonstrators in the eastern town of Gadaref.