Sudan police fire tear gas at fresh Khartoum demos

KHARTOUM — University students staged anti-regime protests in Khartoum for the fifth straight day on Wednesday, with Sudanese riot police using tear gas and batons to disperse them, witnesses said.

The demonstrations, which began on Saturday and have spread to different parts of the capital, come amid a rapidly deteriorating economic situation that has forced the government to make drastic spending cuts and driven up the cost of living.

Groups of students gathered in streets around the University of Khartoum, located next to the Blue Nile river in the city centre, shouting slogans such as “Khartoum, rise up! rise up!” and “The people want to change the regime!”

Riot police responded by firing tear gas to scatter them, while one witness said plain-clothes men carrying sticks and whips, and some wearing masks, had closed the street in front of the main university campus.

At a private business college nearby, riot police again used tear gas and batons against student protesters, thought to number about 100, who were trying to close off a main street in the centre of the capital.

In Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, hundreds more demonstrated outside Ahlia University, as they had on Monday, denouncing the sharp rise in food prices and calling for regime change, witnesses told AFP.

Riot police then fired tear gas in a bid to scatter the protesters, some of whom responded by hurling rocks.

And in Thawra, another district of Omdurman, a group of citizens thought to number around 200 gathered in the street, burning tyres and shouting slogans condemning the government, witnesses said.

The security forces have pursued a zero tolerance policy towards dissent in recent days.

They seem particularly sensitive to demonstrations outside the University of Khartoum, Sudan’s oldest, where protests in 1964 ultimately led to a mass uprising that toppled the military dictatorship then in power, in what became known as the October Revolution.

An AFP correspondent was seized by security agents and held for more than 12 hours without charge on Tuesday after talking to students and taking pictures at the university.

The government closed the university for more than two months earlier this year after students clashed with riot police in late December, following a sit-in related to a dispute over university fees that spilled into the surrounding streets.

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