Police fire tear gas at Sudan protesters

Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters on Friday as they took to the streets after midday prayers to chant anti-government slogans in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said.

Anti-government rallies have rocked cities across Sudan since December 19 when protests first broke out over a government decision to raise the price of bread.

Protesters chanting “freedom, peace and justice” poured out of a mosque in Omdurman, parallel to Khartoum on the west bank of the Nile, witnesses said.

But they were swiftly confronted by police who fired tear gas to disperse them, witnesses said.

Security forces had deployed earlier in the day across key squares in both Khartoum and Omdurman to break up any new demonstrations.

President Omar al-Bashir has told police to abstain from using excessive force against the demonstrators after 19 people, including two security personnel, were killed in clashes.

Rights group Amnesty International says 37 people have been killed in the protests so far.

“Sometimes were are forced to use weapons,” Bashir told a gathering of Sufi leaders late Thursday.

“But then we use them at a very minimum level and that too to maintain security and prevent killings of others,” he said without elaborating.

Several opposition leaders, activists and journalists have been arrested as part on an ongoing crackdown by security forces to prevent the spread of protests.

On Thursday, security agents arrested prominent journalist and columnist Faisal Mohamed Salih from his office in Khartoum, his relatives told AFP.

Salih was the 2013 recipient of Peter Mackler Award for ethical journalism.

Sudan is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation despite the United States lifting a two-decade trade embargo in 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.

Source: National News Agency