Sudan’s police chief has defended his security forces, saying they use only legal means to contain anti-coup protests. Demonstrators have been taking to the streets in masses since last month's military takeover, which upended the country's fragile transition to democracy.
Thursday's remarks by Chief of Police Lt. General Khalid Mahdi Ibrahim came a day after doctors said at least 15 people were killed by live fire during demonstrations against the 25 October coup — the highest daily count of people killed since the takeover.
The United States has expressed dismay over the protesters' deaths, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that Washington is “deeply concerned by the violence used by the Sudanese military against people engaged in peaceful protest.”
Speaking to reporters in Khartoum, Ibrahim insisted that police are protecting civilians and primarily use tear gas to contain violence at the protests.
He repeated claims that there have also been police casualties and promised investigations into any deaths, civilian or other.
However, Ibrahim's statements contradict accounts from those at the protests and doctors who have been treating the wounded.
Protest leaders in Sudan have repeatedly called on demonstrators to abide by nonviolent tactics in their attempt to halt the coup.
Mobile networks scrambled
Security forces, including police, military, and the country’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have faced off with protesters since the coup, trying to stop their marches.
According to the Sudan Doctors Committee, Wednesday's fatalities occurred in mostly in Khartoum's Bahri district and the Sudanese capital's twin city of Omdurman.
The killings have brought the overall death toll since the coup to at least 39.
Hundreds have also been wounded.
The coup, which came more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government, has drawn international criticism.
Since the military takeover, mobile and internet services have been in near-complete dysfunction in Sudan — an apparent tactic to limit calls for gatherings and the spread of information.
On Thursday, the Sudan's state news network announced authorities have restored communications across the country, but many social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp a reportedly inaccessible through mobile networks.