Sudan has been hit by a deadly wave of protests against the government’s lifting of a popular fuel subsidy. Internet across the country was reportedly shut down, as police fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators.
Shops were closed in the capital Khartoum and its neighboring sister city Omdurman, with roads reportedly blocked by protesters. In the north of Khartoum, police fired tear gas at demonstrators who had set fire to a police station.
Tear gas was also used in other areas of the capital against protesters throwing stones. Plumes of black smoke were seen rising into the sky above Khartoum, as demonstrators burnt tires.
“The people want the fall of the regime!” protesters chanted, along with calls of “No to high prices!”
One Reuters reporter said hundreds of officers and plain-clothed security agents carrying guns or batons rushed to the city centre. Security agents were said to have taken away some 20 protesters in pickup trucks.
Internet access was unavailable across much of the country, prompting some analysts to compare the situation to that in neighboring Egypt during the 2011 uprising that toppled then President Hosni Mubarak. At that time, access to the Internet was said to have been cut to prevent protests being organized via social media.
Rioting initially began in the state of Ghezira, south of Khartoum after the Sudanese government removed subsidies on gasoline and other fuel earlier this week, immediately doubling the price of such commodities.
President Omar al-Bashir has ruled the country for more than two decades and has so far avoided the types of mass demonstrations that deposed leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and which led to civil wars in Libya and Syria.
In response to the protest Bashir on Thursday cancelled a trip to attend the UN general assembly in New York, which he had planned despite an ourtsanding arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
rc/rg (AFP, AP, Reuters)