The death toll from Monday’s military crackdown on Sudanese protesters has crossed 100 mark, according to medics close to the opposition.
The soaring casualties followed the recovery of 40 bodies from the Nile on Tuesday. They were taken to an unknown destination by pick-up trucks belonging to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
That brings the total death toll from the recent violence to 101, the medics said. So far no official casualty figures have been released.
The crackdown which followed weeks of wrangling between the ruling military council and opposition groups over who should lead Sudan’s transition to democracy, marked the worst outbreak of violence since the army ousted President Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his rule.
Now, the opposition groups have snubbed Sudan’s military rulers offer to resume talks with them.
On Monday, the Transitional Military Council cancelled all agreements it had reached with the opposition immediately after the raid but on Wednesday it rowed back amid mounting international criticism of the violence.
“We in the military council extend our hand for negotiations without shackles except the interests of the homeland,” its head, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said on state TV.
But a Sudanese alliance of protesters and opposition groups rejected the offer, saying the military could not be trusted.
“Today the council invited us to dialogue and at the same time it is imposing fear on citizens in the streets,” Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), told Reuters.
Madani said Burhan’s invitation had come before the arrest of one of the opposition alliance members, Yasir Arman, deputy head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebel group.
The mood in the capital Khartoum remained tense on Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking streets in several districts. Gunfire rang out in the distance.
Most shops were shuttered on what would usually have been a bustling Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday. Minor protests erupted outside mosques after Eid prayers but there were no reports of significant clashes with security forces.
The deputy head of the military council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, said in a televised speech that it had launched “an urgent and transparent investigation” into the recent violence.
“Any person who crossed boundaries has to be punished,” he added.
The military has denied trying to clear the sit-in protest outside the defence ministry on Monday. Its spokesman said forces moved in to deal with disruptive groups nearby and the violence spread from there.
Saudi Arabia, which has close ties to Sudan’s military council, said on Wednesday it was watching developments with great concern and called for more dialogue.
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