News24

Sudan cops teargas Khartoum protesters

2012-06-20 17:16

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

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.

On Tuesday, around 200 students at Sudan University, also in Khartoum, blocked a road and shouted the same anti-regime slogans before they too were violently dispersed by riot police.

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.