8 killed in Sudan as protests over higher bread prices turn deadly

A bonfire lit by protesters in Atbara, Sudan. The price of a loaf of bread has risen from three to nine Singapore cents, sparking protests.
A bonfire lit by protesters in Atbara, Sudan. The price of a loaf of bread has risen from three to nine Singapore cents, sparking protests.PHOTO: REUTERS

KHARTOUM • Sudan deployed troops in the capital Khartoum and other cities yesterday, witnesses said, after eight demonstrators were killed in clashes with riot police during protests on Thursday over increased bread prices.

After Friday prayers at noon, police forces fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters in the cities of Omdurman and Atbara and the state of North Kordofan, witnesses said.

There were also small-scale demonstrations across at least seven neighbourhoods in the capital Khartoum, but they were short-lived, witnesses said.

Police had stepped up their presence outside Khartoum's main mosques ahead of an anticipated third day of demonstrations.

A government decision to raise the price of a loaf of bread nationwide this week from one to three Sudanese pounds (from about three to nine Singapore cents) has sparked protests across the country.

On Thursday, riot police in Khartoum had fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace, witnesses said.

Six demonstrators were killed in the eastern city of Al-Qadarif and two others in Atbara, also east of Khartoum, officials said.

The demonstrations were among the biggest since crowds came out in protest against cuts to state subsidies in 2013, when many also called for a new government - a rare act in a state dominated by the army and security services.

Yesterday, the weekly day of rest, police patrolled some of the streets in Khartoum while in the north of the capital soldiers were deployed around petrol stations and banks. The police driving in patrol cars were seen carrying clubs and tear gas canisters while the troops held Kalashnikov assault rifles, witnesses said.

 

An Agence France-Presse reporter said lines formed outside bakeries in north Khartoum as residents waited to buy bread.

Residents in Al-Qadarif and Atbara cities reported that security forces had been deployed to secure government buildings and banks.

Al-Qadarif resident Mohammed Sharif Omar said in a telephone interview that army vehicles were stationed outside banks and government buildings.

Angry protesters had on Thursday torched the headquarters of President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) in Atbara and set fire to party offices in two other locations.

And in Al-Qadarif city, demonstrators threw stones at banks and smashed cars before torching the NCP headquarters in the city, according to a resident.

Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year. The cost of some commodities has more than doubled, inflation is running at close to 70 per cent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value.

The cost of bread has also risen and shortages have been reported for the past three weeks across several cities, including the capital Khartoum.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline '8 killed in Sudan as protests over higher bread prices turn deadly'. Print Edition | Subscribe