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story.lead_photo.caption A man leads demonstrations Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan, where tens of thousands of protesters rallied against the military council while calling for civilian rule.

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan's capital and elsewhere in the country on Sunday calling for civilian rule, nearly three months after the army forced out President Omar al-Bashir.

A government official said at least seven people had been killed and nearly 200 injured during the demonstrations. Protest organizers earlier had said around 60 people were wounded.

The demonstrations came amid a weekslong standoff between the ruling military council and protest leaders. Talks between the two sides over a power-sharing agreement collapsed last month when security forces violently broke up a protest camp in Khartoum.

The ensuing clampdown killed at least 128 people across the county, according to protest organizers. Authorities say the toll was 61, including three security troops. At least five people were reportedly killed in Sunday's protests.

The marches, the first since the June 3 crackdown, also mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamist-backed coup that brought al-Bashir to power in 1989, toppling Sudan's last elected government. The military removed the long-ruling autocrat in April amid mass protests against his rule.

The crowds gathered at several points across the capital and its sister city of Omdurman before marching toward the homes of those killed since the uprising began.

"This is a very important day for the Sudanese people," protester Hamdi Karamallah said.

The protest movement began in December, triggered by an economic crisis. The protesters remained in the streets after al-Bashir was overthrown and jailed, fearing that the military would cling to power or preserve much of his regime.

Osman Mirghani, a Sudanese analyst and the editor of the daily newspaper al-Tayar, said the marches "changed the equation" in favor of the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters.

"Now, all pressure cards are in the hands of the FDFC," he said, using the acronym for the group. "The marches corrected the situation."

On Sunday, protesters chanted anti-military slogans such as "Burhan's council, just fall", according to video clips circulated online. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan is head of the military council.

Video clips showed protesters running away from security forces in the streets of Khartoum and seeking shelter from clouds of tear gas.

On a highway leading to Khartoum's international airport, a convoy of troops and riot police allowed some demonstrators to pass through as they headed toward the house of a protester who was killed earlier this month.

The protester's mother was standing outside and joined the demonstration. They waved Sudanese flags and chanted slogans calling for civilian rule.

Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals' Association, a leading protest organization, told The Associated Press that security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in Omdurman and the district of Bahri in the capital.

He said protests also were seen in Atbara, a railway city north of the capital and the birthplace of the uprising that led to al-Bashir's ouster.

The Sudan Doctors Committee, the medical arm of the Sudanese Professionals' Association, said a protester in his 20s was shot dead in Atbara. Nazim Sirraj, a prominent activist, said at least four people were killed in Omdurman.

The Sudanese Professionals' Association later called on protesters to march on the Nile-side presidential palace in Khartoum, as security forces closed off roads and bridges leading to the palace. The groups later said security forces barred the protesters from reaching their destination.

The Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change called on protesters to head to other squares in Khartoum and Omdurman.

Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said the generals want to reach an "urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion."

"We in the military council are totally neutral," he told a gathering of army supporters. "We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute."

A Section on 07/01/2019

Print Headline: Protests return to Sudan's capital

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