Sudanese opposition activists have rejected an offer of talks from the country’s military council, saying it cannot be trusted amid a violent crackdown on protesters.
Doctors linked to the opposition on Wednesday said at least 100 people had been killed by a paramilitary unit in the capital, Khartoum.
They said 40 bodies were pulled from the River Nile in Khartoum on Tuesday.
Residents told the BBC they were living in fear in the capital.
The deputy head of the military council defended the violent suppression, claiming that the protesters had been infiltrated by rogue elements and drug dealers.
“We will not allow chaos and we will not go back on our convictions. There is no way back. We must impose the respect of the country by law,” said Mohammed Hamadan – also known as Hemedti – on Wednesday.
Numerous reports from Khartoum said the paramilitary unit, the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF), was roaming the city’s nearly deserted streets, targeting civilians.
Formerly known as the Janjaweed militia, the RSF gained notoriety for brutal atrocities in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003.
Sudan has been controlled by a military council since pro-democracy protests led to the ousting of veteran President Omar al-Bashir in April, after 30 years of authoritarian rule.
Demonstrators had been occupying the square in front of the military headquarters, while their representatives had negotiated with the military council and agreed a three-year transition that would culminate in elections.
But on Monday, security forces swept in and opened fire on unarmed protesters in the square. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the military council, announced that the agreement was cancelled and an election would take place within nine months.
On Wednesday, however, after Saudi Arabia publicly called for a resumption of talks, Gen Burhan reversed course and said the military council would “open our arms to negotiate with no restriction”.
The offer was rejected by the opposition. “The Sudanese people are not open for talks,” said Amjad Farid, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) which spearheaded the protests against Mr Bashir.
“The Sudanese people are not open to this TMC (Transitional Military Council) that kills people and we need justice and accountability before talks about any political process,” Mr Farid said.