Sudan coup: Tear gas fired at pro-democracy protests

·2 min read
Sudanese women take part in a protest decrying sexual attacks, after the UN said at least 13 women and girls were raped in the recent mass protests against the army
Rallies against sexual violence have taken place following allegations that 13 women and girls were raped at a protest

Security forces in Sudan have fired tear gas at pro-democracy protesters in the capital, Khartoum.

The demonstrators converged on the presidential palace for the second time in a week, but were met by a heavy security presence.

Earlier the military government restricted phone and internet services in the city as protesters gathered, reports say.

Other cities, including Port Sudan, have also seen demonstrations.

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched through Khartoum demanding civilian rule be restored after the military coup on 25 October.

More than 100 people were injured in clashes with police in last week's protests. The security forces were also accused of sexually abusing more than a dozen women and girls.

Activists had planned a series of street protests for Saturday - exactly two months since generals launched their takeover - before internet connections were disrupted.

One internet service provider told Reuters news agency that the disruption followed a decision by Sudan's National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC), which regulates the sector.

Additional security forces have been deployed across the capital, officials said, and local media report that some bridges over the Nile river connecting Khartoum to other cities have been blocked.

A doctors' union allied to the protestors said security forces had fired tear gas and stun grenades inside a hospital as they were pursuing the injured.

Coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has defended October's military takeover, alleging that the army acted to prevent a civil war because political groups had been inciting civilians against the security forces.

He has said he remains committed to the transition to civilian rule, with elections planned for July 2023. However it is unclear how much power the new civilian government will have, as it will be subject to military oversight.

The general has also warned that protests could impede a smooth democratic transition.

Pro-democracy activists accuse the military of stealing the revolution that led to long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir being ousted in 2019.

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