Between 300 to 400 people leaving a mosque after prayers and chanting, "peaceful, peaceful," were fired upon.
Sudanese security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas Friday at 300 to 400 chanting worshippers as they left a mosque near the capital after a call for widespread anti-government protests by opposition groups, according to a Reuters witness.
The group of worshippers in Omdurman, a town near Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, was fired upon as people exited the mosque chanting "peaceful, peaceful," a witness said. Around 30 SUVs belonging to security forces surrounded the square outside the building before noon prayers.
Activists had urged protesters to rally following Friday's weekly Muslim prayers. Civil society groups said authorities arrested nine opposition figures Thursday evening ahead of planned demonstrations. The head of the media office at the National Intelligence and Security Service denied knowledge of the arrests.
A committee of professional organizations involved in the protests said authorities raided an opposition leaders’ meeting in Khartoum. The nine people detained included Siddiq Youssef, a senior leader of Sudan's Communist Party, as well as leaders from the pan-Arab Ba'ath and Nasserist parties, they said in a statement.
Fourteen leaders of one of Sudan's two main opposition groupings were detained for hours last Saturday.
Sudan has been shaken by anti-government protests for over a week, sparked by rising prices, shortages of basic commodities and a bank note crisis as the government hastens to prevent a total economic collapse with emergency austerity measures.
Since the protests began on Dec. 19, at least 19 people have died, including two military personnel, official figures show. However Amnesty International said Tuesday the death toll had risen to 37 people.
Sudan's information minister said Thursday that 219 civilians and 187 security force members had been injured, blaming some of the deaths on fights between shop owners and what he described as looters.
Authorities have shuttered schools as well as declared curfews and states of emergency in several regions. Residents say police have used tear gas and even live ammunition against demonstrators.
Sudan has been gripped by a grueling economic crisis since 2011, after the southern half of the country voted to secede and took with it three-quarters of the country's oil output. The crisis has been aggravated by years of overspending and mismanagement.
Opposition groups blame the government mismanagement on President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for 29 years. A series of measures, including a sharp devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October, have failed to rescue the economy.