CAIRO — Demanding an end to the “blood bath,” hundreds of student protesters took to the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and cities across the country on Tuesday, a day after four teenage demonstrators and an adult were killed in one of the deadliest episodes in months of unrest.
Sudanese protest leaders postponed scheduled talks with military leaders over plans to create a civilian government and they demanded an independent investigation into the killings, which occurred at a protest over bread and fuel shortages in the south-central city of El-Obeid.
Months of public pressure toppled Sudan’s longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in April, leaving the country in the hands of a transitional military council. But negotiations to form a new civilian government, held against a backdrop of violence against protesters, have been troubled and have left the country in a precarious political state.
On Tuesday, protest leaders blamed a paramilitary group run by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, the deputy chief of the military council, for opening fire on protesting high school students in El-Obeid, a city about 250 miles south of Khartoum.
“The military council has gotten addicted to shedding the blood of citizens and to committing massacres,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, the country’s main protest movement, said. Dozens of pro-democracy protesters were killed June 3 in a violent crackdown on a sit-in in Khartoum.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military council, called Monday’s killings “regrettable and upsetting.”
“The killing of peaceful citizens is unacceptable and rejected and a crime that requires immediate and deterrent accountability,” the state news agency quoted Gen. al-Burhan as saying.
Video posted to social media showed students, many in school uniform and with backpacks slung over their shoulders, marching in the streets of several cities and on university campuses on Tuesday, some calling the killings a “blood bath.” University students chanted “No education!” until the violence ended.
Classes have been suspended across the country, and an evening curfew was imposed in El-Obeid and surrounding North Kordofan state.
The governor of North Kordofan, General Al-Sadiq al-Tayeb Abdallah, said the protest in El-Obeid had been “infiltrated” by people who vandalized the offices of two banks, according to the official Sudan News Agency.
Protest leaders, who traveled to El-Obeid on Tuesday, called for the governor to be removed and questioned over the killings.
The killings set off condemnation internationally.
“No child should be buried in their school uniform,” Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF Representative in Sudan, said in a statement, adding that the victims were between 15 and 17 years old. He called for an immediate investigation, as did the British government.
The crackdown in El-Obeid took place on the same day that Gen. Hamdan was in Cairo for talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who, along with the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backs the transitional military council.