Sudan protesters urge Darfur demos as new rallies planned

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Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who marched after noon prayers in the capital Khartoum on Friday as protests against President Omar al-Bashir's 30-year-old rule widened, reports Reuters.

Reuters witnesses said security forces used tear gas against dozens of demonstrators in Al-Halfaya Bahri in southern Khartoum and against a separate demonstration by dozens of people who had emerged from Sayyed Abdel-Rahman Mosque in Omdurman, on the other side of River Nile to the capital.

Officials estimated that 24 people had been killed in the protests since December 27; however, an Amnesty International report put the number of fatalities at 37.

At least 22 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the protests, which were sparked by anger over rising food prices and cash shortages but quickly turned against Bashir's government.

Anti-government demonstrations first erupted in towns and villages before spreading to Khartoum last month.

"We look with great regret at the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians...", it said.

Authorities said they had set up a commission to investigate the incident.

The European Union said Friday that the "use of force by security forces against civilians - including the use of live ammunition - has led to further casualties over the last few days".

"If violence against protesters continues, we might take a decision", he warned. He has insisted that the protests are part of a foreign plot to undermine Sudan's "Islamic experiment" and blamed the country's worsening economic crisis on global sanctions.

Demonstrations also took place in other cities across the country, particularly in Gadarif, Faw and Amri, as well in the western region of Darfur, activists said, with eyewitnesses adding that police had broken up a 1,000-person strong demonstration in the northern Darfur town of el-Fasher.

The demonstration was the first of its kind in Darfur since the unrest began.

Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported in several cities, including Khartoum, while the costs of foods and medicines have more than doubled.

Sudanese officials including Mr Bashir have blamed the violence during demonstrations on "thugs" and "conspirators".

The crackdown has drawn global criticism, with countries like Britain, Norway, Canada and the United States warning Khartoum that its actions could "have an impact" on its relations with their governments.

In a strongly-worded statement, Sudan's National Commission for Human Rights slammed the attack on the Omdurman hospital and called for a swift investigation into the deaths of citizens.

A nation of 40 million people, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output - its main source of foreign currency - when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

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