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Sudanese Security Forces Kill 7 Protesters in Fresh Anti-coup Rallies

Security forces shot and killed seven protesters Monday during rallies against last year’s military coup, medics said, ahead of a visit by US diplomats seeking to revive a transition to civilian rule.

The protesters “were killed by live bullets” by “militias of the putschist military council”, anti-coup medics said on the Facebook page of Khartoum state’s health ministry, initially announcing three dead.

The independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said hours later that four more demonstrators were killed “during a massacre by the coup authorities who were seeking to disperse the protests”.

The killings bring to 71 the death toll of protesters killed since the October 25 coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The military takeover triggered wide international condemnation and derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule following the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.

The latest rallies, in Khartoum and Wad Madani to the south, came as US envoy to the Horn of Africa David Satterfield and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee were expected in the capital this week.

Security officers who deployed in large numbers fired volleys of tear gas at protesters heading towards the presidential palace, an AFP correspondent said.

Several people were seen suffering breathing difficulties and others bleeding due to wounds by tear gas canisters, the correspondent said.

Sawsan Salah, from the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, said protesters burnt car tyres and carried photos of people killed during other demonstrations since the October 25 coup.

In Wad Madani, “around 2,000 people took to the streets as they called for civilian rule,” said Emad Mohammed, a witness there.

Thousands of protesters demanded that the military return to their barracks and chanted in favour of civilian rule in North Khartoum, 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, with two days of strikes and civil disobedience planned.

Protesters – sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands – have regularly taken to the streets despite a deadly security clampdown and periodic cuts to communications since the coup.

On Thursday, Sudanese authorities said protesters stabbed to death a police general, the first fatality among security forces.

Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition in confronting demonstrators and insist scores of security personnel have been wounded during protests that have often “deviated from peacefulness”.

Diplomatic push

Starting Monday in Riyadh, Satterfield and Phee were to meet the Friends of Sudan, a group calling for the restoration of the country’s transitional government.

The meeting aims to “marshal international support” for the UN mission to “facilitate a renewed civilian-led transition to democracy” in Sudan, the US State Department said.

The diplomats then travel to Khartoum for meetings with pro-democracy activists, civic groups, military and political figures.

“Their message will be clear: The United States is committed to freedom, peace, and justice for the Sudanese people,” the State Department said.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that a new chargé d’affaire, Lucy Tamlyn, would head the embassy in Khartoum to serve “during this critical juncture in Sudan’s democratic transition.”

The United Nations last week said it would launch talks involving political, military and social actors to help resolve the crisis.

The mainstream civilian faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the leading civilian pro-democracy group, has said it would accept the UN offer for talks if it could revive the transition to civilian rule.

Proposed talks have been welcomed by the ruling Sovereign Council, which Burhan re-staffed following the coup with him as chairman.

Burhan has insisted that the military takeover “was not a coup” but only meant to “rectify” the course of the post-Bashir transition.

Earlier this month, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned saying the country was now at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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