Protests Rock Sudanese Cities, One More Dead

KHARTOUM Protests raged across Sudanese cities Thursday and another demonstrator died in the most widespread rallies of anti-government unrest that began last month.

The 24-year-old man died from his wounds in Omdurman, a city across the Nile from the capital Khartoum, where crowds were railing against Sudan's three-decade ruler Omar al-Bashir.

That took the official death toll from unrest since Dec. 19 to 29, according to government investigatory committee spokesman Amer Mohamed Ibrahim.

Rights groups put the total at more than 40.

Trouble raged into the night in Omdurman, with smoke billowing over a street barricaded by steel poles, burning tires and tree branches.

In Khartoum, security forces fired tear gas at protesters in various neighborhoods, witnesses said. At night, smoke wafted over Khartoum, fires burned and a main street was blocked.

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

Triggered by a worsening economic crisis, protests calling for Bashir to step down have spread into the most sustained challenge yet to his rule.

The opposition Sudanese Professionals' Association, a union group that has led calls for demonstrations, had urged protesters to rally from early afternoon and march to Bashir's palace on the banks of the Nile.

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.

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

Source: Voice of America