Pro-democracy protests met with violence by Sudan’s military have left at least 100 people dead across the country, an opposition group said.
The violence began Monday when forces of the Transitional Military Council opened fire on unarmed protesters on Monday, wiping out a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.
The last previously reported death toll stood at 40 but the Sudan Doctors Committee said security forces killed at least 10 people on Wednesday in the capital city and its twin city of Omdurman. That came after another 10 people were killed on Tuesday in different parts of the country.
Later Wednesday, the death toll tally spiked past 100 after the media group said 40 more bodies were retrieved from the Nile River in the Khartoum. The bodies have been taken by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces to an unknown location, the group said.
The medical group also said that at least 326 people were wounded in clashes in the past two days and feared the final death toll would be much higher.
The new death toll comes as Sudan’s military council said the ruling generals are ready to resume negotiations with the opposition.
The head of the council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, said there would be “no restrictions” in talks with leaders behind the months-long street protests.
“We open our hands to negotiations with all parties … for the interest of the nation,” he said, adding that those responsible for the violent break-up of the demonstrators’ sit-in in Khartoum would be held accountable.
There was no immediate reaction from the opposition.
Demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters since early April, days before Sudan’s longtime strongman, Omar al-Bashir, was overthrown after 30 years in power. The sit-in continued, with protests demanding that the generals who took power hand over authority to civilians.
After al-Bashir's ouster, for weeks, the military and protest leaders negotiated over the makeup of a transitional council meant to run the country for three years before elections. Protesters demand that civilians dominate the council, but the generals resisted.
The crackdown put an end to the relative peace that surrounded the talks and signaled the military had lost patience with activists' demands, putting the two sides on the path of a potentially longer confrontation with increasing violence.
Activists Mohammed Najib and Hashim al-Sudani said there were street battles late Tuesday and early Wednesday in Khartoum's Bahri and Buri districts between protesters and security forces, mainly from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.
"In Buri, there were lots of shootings and tear gas," al-Sudani said. "They tried to force people into narrow streets" to beat them.
Burhan's latest remarks marked a significant change from his televised speech early Tuesday, when the general blamed protest leaders for the volatile situation, accusing them of drawing out negotiations and trying to exclude some "political and security forces" from taking part in any transitional government.
He also announced the military would unilaterally form an interim government and hold elections sooner, within seven to nine months, under international supervision, and said that any agreements reached earlier in the negotiations with the demonstrators were canceled.
In a joint statement, the U.S., Norway, and Britain condemned the Sudanese security forces for violent attacks on protesters.
The statement, released late Tuesday, said Sudan's military council "put the transition process and peace in Sudan in jeopardy" by ordering attacks on peaceful protesters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.