Sudan police fire tear gas as new protests erupt

Sudanese demonstrators run from teargas lobbed to disperse them in Khartoum, on Dec 25, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

KHARTOUM (AFP) - Sudanese police fired tear gas at hundreds of worshippers who staged demonstrations after Friday (Dec 28) prayers in several cities, including Khartoum, as opposition groups urged more anti-government protests.

Angry crowds have taken to the streets in Khartoum and other cities since Dec 19 after a government decision to raise prices of bread.

New protests were staged after Friday prayers in some areas of Khartoum, its twin city Omdurman, Port Sudan, Atbara and Madani, witnesses said.

Hundreds of worshippers chanted "Freedom, Peace, Justice" as they poured out of a mosque in Omdurman, a witness said.

But they were quickly confronted by anti-riot police who fired tear gas to break up their demonstration, the witness added.

Police also fired tear gas at protesters in Port Sudan and Atbara, the eastern city where demonstrations first erupted on Dec 19, witnesses said.

Photographs posted by activists on social media networks showed thick plumes of smoke rising from several neighbourhoods in Khartoum as protesters burnt garbage and tyres.

The protests came as opposition groups called for more anti-government rallies to be held over the next few days.

A group of opposition parties met late on Thursday and agreed to "push for more protests" in the coming days, the Sudanese Communist Party said in a statement.

Several opposition party members have been arrested amid a crackdown on protests.

On Thursday, Sudan said that 19 people including two security personnel have been killed so far in protests since they first erupted in towns and villages and later spread to Khartoum.

Most were killed during "incidents of lootings", while 219 people were wounded, said government spokesman Boshara Juma, adding that no deaths had been reported in Khartoum so far.

Police and security officers remained deployed in several parts of the Sudanese capital on Friday.

Crowds of people have rallied since last week after the government raised the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about three to eight Singapore cents).

Although most protests are against the high cost of living and food prices, some protesters have also adopted the slogan used in the 2011 Arab Spring - "the people want the fall of the regime".

Sudan is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation, despite Washington lifting an economic embargo in October 2017.

Inflation is running at 70 per cent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.

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