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Sudan town holds rally for 'martyrs' killed in protests

War Conflict

AFP  |  Khartoum 

Hundreds of protesters on Tuesday staged a "martyrs' rally" in an eastern Sudanese town to honour those killed in anti-government protests last month, witnesses said.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, when unrest broke out over a government decision to raise the price of bread.

Authorities say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed during the demonstrations, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

Six people were killed in Al-Gadaref, an impoverished agricultural town in eastern Sudan, when protests erupted after a government decision to triple the price of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents).

On Tuesday, protesters staged what organisers said was a "martyrs' rally" to mark the deaths in Al-Gadaref.

The main market was shut as demonstrators gathered in the downtown area, chanting slogans such as "Peace, justice, freedom" and "Revolution is the choice of the people".

Demonstrators were confronted by riot police who fired tear gas as protesters prepared to march to the provincial council building, witnesses said.

Groups of protesters managed to reach the compound of the council building and one of their representatives read out a petition calling for President Omar al-Bashir to resign, one witness told AFP by telephone on condition of anonymity.

The protest was organised by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, a group of teachers, doctors and engineers that has spearheaded the ongoing anti-government demonstrations across the country.

Sudanese authorities could not be reached to comment on the rally. More than 800 protesters have been arrested across Sudan since the unrest began, Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said Monday while describing the current situation as "calm and stable".

Opposition leaders, activists and journalists have also been detained as part of a crackdown to prevent the spread of protests.

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989, told police last month to use "less force" in their response to demonstrators.

Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year, led by an acute shortage of foreign currency.

Food and fuel shortages have been regularly reported across several cities, including the capital Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 21:20 IST