Sudan police fire tear gas as protests erupt in Khartoum, Darfur


Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters who marched after noon prayers in the Sudanese capital Khartoum Friday to demand President Omar al-Bashir step down from 30 years in power.

Witnesses told the news agency that security forces used tear gas against dozens of demonstrators in al-Halfaya Bahri, an area in the south of Khartoum, and against a demonstration by dozens of people emerging from Sayed Abdel Rahman Mosque in Omdurman, which sits on the other side of the River Nile from the capital.

At least 22 people, including two security personnel, have been killed during the protests and hundreds wounded, officials say.

The commission's statement came amid another day of anti-government protests, which began on 19 December when the government tripled the price of bread.

"We look with great regret at the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians...", it said.

They were quickly confronted by volleys of tear gas from riot police.

While also criticising the firing of tear gas at hospitals, the commission called on the government "to investigate this and bring the criminals to court".

Protests that first erupted last month over a government decision to raise the price of bread have swiftly escalated into anti-government demonstrations.

A government committee recorded 24 deaths, however Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said that at least 40 have died.

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Some residents in Bahari took protesters inside their homes and offered them juice as tear gas canisters struck the facades of their buildings, a witness said.

"In spite of the violence of security forces, the clouds of tear gas and thunder of live ammunition, our people courageously took to the street", said the association, comprising of unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Protests triggered by an economic crisis have rippled across Sudan since mid-December in the most sustained challenge yet to Bashir's rule.

Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported in several cities, including Khartoum, while the costs of foods and medicines have more than doubled.

The United States lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan in October 2017, but many investors continue to shun a country still listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, including opposition leaders, activists and journalists as well as demonstrators.

The crackdown has drawn global criticism with Britain, Canada, Norway and the United States warning Khartoum that its actions would "have an impact" on its relations with their governments. It restricted Sudan from conducting worldwide business and financial transactions.

Sudan's economy was crippled when the south seceded in 2011, taking away much of its oil resources.