Protests break out in Sudanese cities after call for mass rallies

 Protests break out in Sudanese cities after call for mass rallies

By Khalid Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Protests broke out in several Sudanese cities on Thursday and in many areas of the capital Khartoum, witnesses said, the most widespread demonstrations in a wave of anti-government unrest that began last month.

Security forces fired tear gas at protesters in the Burri and al-Deem neighbourhoods of Khartoum and in the north of the capital, a Reuters witness and other witnesses said.

There were also protests in Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city, and in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and al-Qadarif, where hundreds of protesters gathered in the area of the main market, chanting "Down, that's it! Freedom, freedom."

Triggered by a worsening economic crisis, protests calling for President Omar al-Bashir to step down have spread across Sudan since Dec. 19, the most sustained challenge yet to his three-decade rule.

The opposition Sudanese Professionals' Association, a grouping of unionists that has led calls for demonstrations, had urged protesters to stage mass rallies from 1300 local time (1100 GMT) on Thursday, and march to Bashir's palace on the banks of the River Nile in Khartoum.

The group said on its social media sites that protesters had gathered in cities including Madani and Sennar south of Khartoum as well as smaller towns.

Many protests were reported in Gezira state and witnesses said demonstrators had blocked the main road in al-Nuba district, also south of Khartoum.

Security forces have used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse demonstrations, as well as arresting hundreds of protesters and opposition figures.

The official death toll from the unrest stands at 26, while rights groups say more than 40 have died.

Authorities have blamed the unrest on "infiltrators" and foreign agents, and said they are taking steps to resolve Sudan's economic problems.

(Additional reporting by Nafisa Eltahir in DubaiWriting by Aidan Lewis; editing by John Stonestreet, William Maclean)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2019 01:07:10 IST