Sudanese anti-coup protesters stabbed to death a police general on Thursday, authorities said, when thousands who staged demonstrations against a military coup in October met with tear gas.
Brigadier General Ali Bareema Hamad, “martyred while performing his duties and securing protests” in the capital Khartoum, said a police statement on Facebook.
Hamad “was fatally stabbed by groups of protesters … in various parts of his body,” police spokesman Idris Abdalla Idris told Sudan TV.
Other police personnel “suffered serious injuries,” he added.
Hamads was the first death to be announced among security forces since protests calling for a return to civilian rule began more than two months ago.
A security crackdown has left at least 63 people dead and hundreds injured, according to doctors, who said many of the protesters were killed by live rounds.
Thursday’s demonstrations gathered from several parts of Khartoum and came after an attempt by the UN to facilitate talks between rival Sudanese factions received lukewarm support.
The UN initiative aimed to resolve the crisis since the October 25 military coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the resignation of Civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month.
Sudan has no government, foreign aid has been suspended, and regular demonstrations against the coup – in which up to tens of thousands took part – are routinely met by a violent response from the authorities.
Protesters also took to the streets in the capital’s twin town of Omdurman and in Port Sudan in the east of the country, according to witnesses.
Protesters in Khartoum gathered in the city center and chanted: “With all our might we are on our way to the palace”.
Others shouted: “Burhan is dirty, brought to (power) by the Islamists”, which was dominant during the rule of the strong man Omar al-Bashir for three decades. He was ousted by his own military in April 2019 after months of mass protests.
According to a repeated pattern, the security forces fired tear gas volleys to disperse the protesters in Khartoum and Omdurman, witnesses said.
Online videos appeared to show protesters throwing stones and unexploded ordnance containing tear gas at security forces near the presidential palace.
The military takeover tracked down a fragile transition to civilian rule after Bashir’s ouster.
Authorities have repeatedly denied using heavy ammunition to confront protesters, insisting that large numbers of security forces have been injured during demonstrations that have often “deviated from peace”.
On Monday, UN Special Representative Volker Perthes said he would begin “consultations” with political and social actors as well as armed and civil society groups.
UN pressure has received a mixed response.
“We do not accept this initiative at all,” said 62-year-old protester Awad Saleh.
“It is not clear what the points are and so for us it is deficient.”
The Sudanese Professionals Association, an independent trade union confederation that has helped organize the protests, said it completely rejected the UN initiative.
The mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the leading civilian pro-democracy group, said they would “discuss” the invitation internally before announcing their position.
But spokesman Wagdy Saleh said the JRC rejected “any partnership” with the military.
The ruling sovereign council – formed by Burhan after the coup with himself as chairman – has welcomed the proposed talks, as have the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for stability in Sudan and said it “will be achieved only by consensus among all forces”.
Burhan has insisted that the military takeover “was not a coup” but only intended to “correct the course of the Sudanese transition.
Hamdok resigned as prime minister on January 2, just six weeks after being restored after his house arrest in the wake of the coup.
In his resignation speech, Hamdok warned that Sudan is now at a “dangerous crossroads that threatens the country’s survival”.