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December 29, 2018

Sudan police fire tear gas at protesters


December 29, 2018

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on hundreds of worshippers who staged a demonstration after Friday prayers outside a mosque in Omdurman, as opposition groups urged for more anti-government protests.

Angry crowds have taken to the streets in Khartoum and other cities since December 19 after a government decision to raise prices of bread. Hundreds of worshippers emerged from the mosque in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on the west bank of the Nile Friday to protest but anti-riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.

Demonstrations also erupted in some areas of north Khartoum after the weekly prayers, witnesses said. Worshippers also marched in the streets of the eastern city of Atbara where initial demonstrations had erupted on December 19.

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.

On Thursday, Sudan said that 19 people including two security personnel had been killed so far in bread price 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 death 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 two to six US cents). 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 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged in value, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.

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