Scores of people have been injured in ongoing demonstrations against the army
At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured in Sudan after security forces fired into crowds protesting a military coup, a health ministry official has said.
The bloodshed comes as the Biden administration suspended $700 million in aid to the cash-strapped nation and the United Nations Security Council called an emergency closed-door meeting about the takeover which has torn the fragile country apart.
On Monday, Sudan’s top military official General Abdel-Fattah Burhan announced he was dissolving Sudan’s transitional civilian government.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock was placed under arrest, alongside several hundred other senior civilian officials and political figures. Their whereabouts are still not known.
The army closed entrances, bridges and the airport in the city, while witnesses told The Independent that phone and internet lines were cut, shops shut and people were panic buying bread.
In response, Washington suspended hundreds of millions of dollars of emergency assistance warning it “will not hesitate” to take further action against those behind the coup.
The European Union, the UN and the Arab League have all urged the country’s generals to release the officials. An emergency UN meeting on Tuesday was called for by the United States, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Norway and Estonia, who have all expressed their alarm at the coup.
A health official, meanwhile, told AFP that seven people had been killed and 140 injured as security forces cracked down on protesters who took to the streets against the move. Sudan’s Doctors Committee put the death toll at four.
The Sudanese military seized power more than two years after a 2019 popular uprising forced the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
For the past two years the country has been ruled under a power sharing agreement between its civilians and military leaders.
According to the transitional timeline, in less than a month Burhan was supposed to hand the leadership of the ruling Sovereign Council to a civilian, decreasing the army’s grip on power.
But the top general denied this was the reason behind his actions, instead alleging quarrels and divisions among political factions were threatening the integrity and security of the country. He has vowed to hold elections on schedule in 19 months.
However, Monday’s takeover was apparently the dramatic conclusion of months of unrest in the country. In September, Khartoum announced it had thwarted a separate coup attempt by civilian and military plotters linked to Bashir’s ousted regime.
In the same month protests by tribes in eastern Sudan blocked trade through the key hub of Port Sudan. Then ten days ago a splinter faction of the main civilian protest bloc held rallies demanding a military government.
Sudanese diplomats told The Independent after this a list of those wanted for arrest was drawn up and eventually circulated as early as five days ago.
The UN special envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, warned reporters that because of this there was a serious risk of “more violence or more clashes”.
On Monday he said some demonstrators tried to enter army headquarters in Khartoum and “we have then seen shooting”.
He added that leading up to the coup he and the US envoy Jeffrey Feltman had lobbied hard for dialogue and calm in parallel meetings with Sudanese political and military figures.