KHARTOUM – At least seven people were killed Sunday as angry Sudanese protesters took to the streets to demand civilian rule in the first mass rally since the bloody crackdown on demonstrators on June 3.
The “million-man” march had been seen as a test for protest organizers after their push for civilian rule was hit by last month’s raid on a Khartoum protest camp and a subsequent internet blackout that curbed their ability to mobilize support.
Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded when armed men in military fatigues stormed the sit-in outside army headquarters, shooting and beating protesters who had camped there since April 6.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas on protesters approaching the presidential palace after organizers called for a march on the building that houses offices of the ruling transitional military council.
“We call on our revolutionary people in the capital to go to the republican palace… to seek justice for the martyrs and for an unconditional transfer of power to civilians,” the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) that first launched protests against now ousted ruler Omar al-Bashir said on Twitter.
Police also fired tear gas at protesters in the northern Khartoum district of Bahri and in Mamura and Arkweit, in the capital’s east, as thousands of protesters chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!”, witnesses said.
Elsewhere, security forces used tear gas to disperse protests in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman and the eastern town of Gadaref.
Late on Sunday the official SUNA news agency quoted Soliman Abdel-Gabar, acting undersecretary of health, as saying that “seven were killed” in the protests, without elaborating how they died or who they were.
He said another 181 people were wounded, including 27 with bullets.
Separately 10 members of regular forces were also wounded, including three from the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces shot by “live ammunition,” it said.
Earlier the Sudan Doctors Committee, the medical arm of the SPA, said that five protesters had been killed during the day, including four in Omdurman.
It also said that several more were seriously wounded by gunshots fired by “the military council militias”.
The deputy chief of the ruling military council said that unknown snipers had shot at least three members of RSF and five or six civilians in Omdurman.
“There are infiltrators, people who want to jeopardize progress,” General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who also commands the RSF said at a rally.
Men and women flashing victory signs and carrying Sudanese flags flooded the streets of Al-Sahafa neighborhood of Khartoum.
Marchers also passed by the homes of those killed on June 3 as onlookers cheered and motorists honked horns.
Thousands also protested in the cities of Port Sudan, Al-Obeid, Madani and Khasma el-Girba, witnesses said.