Sudan’s interim prime minister and at least five senior government officials have been detained by military forces, according to reports.
The country’s main pro-democracy political group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), called on people to take to the streets in response to any apparent coup attempt.
“We urge the masses to go out on the streets and occupy them, close all roads with barricades, stage a general labour strike, and not to cooperate with the putschists and use civil disobedience to confront them,” the group said in a statement.
Internet and mobile phone signal outages have been reported, said SPA officials speaking anonymously to the Associated Press.
Thousands took to the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman, with video appearing to show protesters blocking streets and setting tyres on fire as security forces used tear gas.
Sudan‘s information ministry said on its Facebook page that interim prime minister Abdalla Hamdok had been detained and taken to an undisclosed location.
In a statement to Reuters, the ministry described it as a “coup attempt”.
Officials also said those being held included industry minister Ibrahim al Sheikh, information minister Hamza Baloul, Mohammed al Fiky Suliman, a member of the ruling Sovereign Council, and Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a media adviser to Mr Hamdok.
Ayman Khalid, the governor of the state containing the capital, Khartoum, was also arrested, according to the official Facebook page of his office.
The arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders, including a failed coup attempt in September.
NetBlocks, a group which monitors disruptions across the internet, said it had seen a “significant disruption” to both fixed-line and mobile internet connections across Sudan with multiple providers.
“Metrics corroborate user reports network disruptions appearing consistent with an internet shutdown,” the advocacy group said.
“The disruption is likely to limit the free flow of information online and news coverage of incidents on the ground.”
A military takeover would be a major setback for Sudan, which has struggled with a move to democracy since protests ended Omar al Bashir’s long reign.
Josep Borrell, the EU foreign affairs chief, tweeted about his “utmost concern” over the situation, while US special envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said Washington was “deeply alarmed”.