The United States urged the military leaders of Sudan’s coup to refrain from “any and all violence” against peaceful protesters who are planning major demonstrations on Saturday. 

The appeal to Sudan’s military leaders came from a senior State Department official who was briefing reporters on condition of anonymity. 

“Tomorrow is going to be a real indication of what the military intentions are,” the official said. 

Since Monday’s military takeover, protesters have taken to the streets of Sudan to demand the restoration of a civilian government. A group of neighborhood committees and other activists are planning a “march of millions” on Saturday under the slogan “Leave!” 

Security forces have killed at least nine people by gunfire and wounded at least 170 others during the protests, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee. 

Saturday’s planned protests have some residents fearing a full-blown clampdown, Reuters reported. 

“Confronting peaceful protesters with gunfire is something that should not be tolerated,” said Haitham Mohamed in Khartoum. “It will not make us back down; it only strengthens our resolve.” 

The military takeover occurred after weeks of escalating tensions between military and civilian leaders over Sudan’s transition to democracy. The coup threatens to derail the process, which has slowly progressed since the army ousted longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, ending a popular uprising in 2019. 

Sudanese military chief General Abdel-Fattah Burhan said Tuesday that the army’s overthrow of the country’s transitional government was necessary to avoid a civil war. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement Friday, “I urge the military to show restraint and not to create any more victims. People must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully. And this is essential.”

VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching contributed to this report. Some information came from Reuters.

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