KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s ruling military council said it foiled an attempted military coup Thursday, just days after the military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed on a joint sovereign council to rule the country during a transition period until elections are organized.

Lt. Gen. Gamal Omar, a member of the military council, said in a statement at least 16 active and retired military officers were arrested. Security forces were pursuing the group’s leader and additional officers who took part in plotting the coup attempt, he said.

The council did not reveal the name of the attempted leader, his rank or other details. The statement also said five of the arrested officers were retired.

The military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed last week on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. Both sides say a diplomatic push by the U.S. and its Arab allies was key to ending a weekslong standoff that raised fears of all-out civil war.

“The attempted coup came in a critical time, ahead of the deal with the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change,” Omar said, referring to the group that speaks for pro-democracy demonstrators.

Sudan has been in political deadlock since the overthrow of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April. Sudan’s top general has said the military council that assumed power after al-Bashir’s overthrow would be dissolved with the implementation of the power-sharing deal reached on July 5.

The deal was meant to end the political deadlock between the military council and the protest movement since security forces razed a massive pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum early last month, killing more than 100 people since then, according to protest organizers.

Sudanese activists said Wednesday that the ruling generals had restored internet service in the country, following a weekslong blackout imposed during the deadly crackdown last month.

The Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change, which represents the protesters, has repeatedly called for internet service restoration. That demand was one of the trust-building measures set by protesters to resume talks with the generals after the violent dispersal of the sit-in.

Lawyer Abdel-Azim Hassan sued last month to restore internet service. A court ordered authorities to restore service for Hassan, who then filed another lawsuit demanding internet service be restored for all Sudanese.

“The reason behind blocking internet service was to hide facts, information and evidence related to crimes” committed by security forces in the crackdown, he said. — (AP)

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