|Date: Jan 7, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Police use tear gas to break up Sudan protests|
|Agence France Presse|
KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas Friday to break up protests in the capital Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, witnesses said, after demonstrators took to the streets following midday prayers. Anti-government rallies have rocked cities across Sudan since Dec. 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.
Police used tear gas to break up that demonstration and a separate protest in north Khartoum, witnesses said.
Security forces have been deployed earlier in the day across key squares in both cities ahead of expected unrest.
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 we 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 further.
Several opposition leaders, activists and journalists have been arrested as part on an ongoing crackdown by security agents to prevent the spread of protests.
Several opposition leaders, activists and journalists have been arrested as part of an ongoing crackdown by security agents to prevent the spread of protests.
Security forces have arrested prominent journalist and columnist Faisal Mohammad 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.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 05, 2019, on page 8.