Thousands demonstrate in Sudanese capital after protester deaths

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More than 3,000 protesters took to the streets of the Sudanese capital on Saturday to demand for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to step down, witnesses said, after days of unrest in which dozens of people have been killed.

The protests, which are on their sixth day, were sparked by the scrapping of fuel subsidies that have turned into an expression of anti-government sentiment.

Opposition sources say more than 140 people have been killed since the unrest began on Thursday. But the official death toll is now at 33 after four protesters were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Friday, Reuters news agency reported.

More than 5,000 people demonstrated in Khartoum on Friday, the biggest turnout in central Sudan for many years.

New demonstrations broke out Friday evening in eastern districts of the capital, with police again firing tear gas and charging demonstrators, an Agence France Presse correspondent said.

Authorities have arrested 600 people for taking part in the week-long protests the interior ministry said on Friday.
The people were “arrested for participating in acts of vandalism and will be judged next week,” a ministry statement said.

In Khartoum's Burri district, home to a top government official, more than 1,000 people gathered for the funeral of one of the victims, Salah Mudathir's a doctor from a prominent merchant family with strong ties to the government Reuters reported.

“Bashir, you are a killer,” a witness said about 2,000 marchers men, women and youths shouted after Mudathir's burial according to AFP.

“Freedom! Freedom!” he said they shouted, calling for the end of Bashir's regime.

Amnesty International and the New York-based African Center for Justice and Peace Studies said at least 50 people had been killed by gunshots to the chest or head by Thursday night, citing witnesses, relatives, doctors and journalists according to Reuters.

Unrest escalated after the death of more than 50 protesters, with the government shutting down internet connection and several local media outlets.

The Sudanese government ordered the closure of Al Arabiya television’s office in Khartoum on Friday, hours after it had summoned the channel’s correspondent for question.

The correspondent was later released but the channel’s office remained closed.

Meanwhile, reformers in Sudan's ruling party on Saturday told Bashir that the deadly crackdown on protests was a betrayal of his regime’s Islamic foundations.

“The (economic) package that was implemented by the government, and the crackdown against those opposed to it, is far from mercy and justice and the right of peaceful expression,” the 31 prominent reformers said in a letter to Bashir which they made public.

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