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7 killed as tens of thousands protesters hit Sudan streets for civilian rule

KHARTOUM: Seven protestor were killed by security forces after tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding the ruling generals to hand over power to a civilian-led administration took to the streets.

The protestors were also demanding justice for those killed in a deadly military crackdown on the sit-in of the pro-democracy movement.

Reports said that the military and the riot police used tear gas, live ammunition and stun grenades to try and disperse the crowd.

The state news agency SUNA reported late on Sunday that the death toll had climbed to seven, with 181 wounded, citing a health ministry official.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is linked to the protest movement, earlier 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.

Images posted on social media appeared to show heightened security around the capital. The feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the group blamed by protesters for the June 3 killings were deployed in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns in several Khartoum squares.

In the northern Khartoum district of Bahari and in al-Mamoura and Arkaweet, in the capital’s east, police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters chanted ‘Civilian rule! Civilian rule!’. Security forces also fired tear gas at demonstrators in the eastern town of al-Qadarif.

“Today has been a glorious day in Sudan, not only because of the multitude of people who participated in the protests, but also because of their unfailing commitment to non-violent resistance,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, a leading protest organisation wrote in a tweet.

“Peace has always been our movement’s first word and it will be its last.”

The march came as the African Union (AU) and neighbouring Ethiopia stepped up efforts to mediate the ongoing crisis between the protest organisers and the TMC, which seized power in April when it overthrew long-time President Omar al-Bashir in the wake of mass protests against his autocratic rule.

Rights groups have demanded the TMC guarantee the safety of demonstrators but on Saturday, on the eve of the rallies, the ruling generals warned that they would hold the protest movement responsible for any deaths or damage.