Five protesters were killed on Saturday as huge crowds defied gunfire and tear gas in Sudan's capital Khartoum and other cities to demonstrate against a military takeover, witnesses and medics said, reported Reuters.
The protests came two days after army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced a new ruling council that excludes the civilian coalition the military had been sharing power with since 2019, hardening opposition among pro-democracy groups to the October 25 coup.
In a sign authorities may be stepping up efforts to quash a campaign of planned protests and civil disobedience, security forces moved to disperse protesters as soon as they began to gather in the early afternoon. They fired tear gas and chased demonstrators down side streets to prevent them reaching central meeting points, witnesses said.
Previously, security forces had waited until later in the day before moving in.
"People were surprised that they fired the tear gas so early," said one protester in Omdurman across the Nile from central Khartoum, adding that demonstrators retreated, barricaded streets, and then reassembled.
Most protesters dispersed of their own accord around sunset, though tear gas and gunfire continued until around 8 p.m. in Khartoum North as security forces arrested protesters and removed their barricades, witnesses said.
Witnesses estimated the numbers around Khartoum to be in the tens of thousands, with large crowds in other cities bringing the total nationwide to hundreds of thousands.
"The revolutionaries have nothing but peacefulness and are calling for democracy and bringing back civilian rule which was taken away by Burhan," said Mohamed Hamed, a protester in Khartoum who held up the cases of two of the bullets he said were being used against protesters.
In Wad Madani, south-east of Khartoum, protesters chanted "Down, down with military rule", a witness told Reuters. Protesters in other cities, including Al Gadarif and Kosti, were also met with tear gas, witnesses said.