BEIRUT

Middle East

Seven hurt at major protest in Sudan's Darfur: witness

In this image grabbed from an AFP Video, Sudanese protesters gather as riot policemen stand guard during a demonstration in the capital Khartoum on July 13, 2012. AFP PHOTO

KHARTOUM: At least seven people including members of the security forces were injured in Sudan's troubled Darfur region on Tuesday during a major Arab Spring-style protest over rising prices, a witness said.

Four bleeding demonstrators and three security officers were taken away for medical treatment from the demonstration in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, said the witness.

He added that nobody was allowed inside the city's hospital where a crowd had gathered outside.

Police had earlier fired tear gas at the demonstrators scattered in groups around the main market, he said, adding they threw stones at a state-run radio station and another government building, and erected crude roadblocks.

"I saw tyres burning in the street," he said.

Like other demonstrators in Sudan, they repeated a call made by crowds at Arab Spring protests around the region: "The people want the fall of the regime."

Demonstrations in Sudan started on June 16 when University of Khartoum students voiced their opposition to high food prices, starting the longest-running public challenge to the 23-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir.

After Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel, scattered protests spread to include a cross-section of people, often in groups of 100 or 200, around the capital Khartoum and in other parts of Sudan.

Protests have dwindled during the holy month of Ramadan which began on July 20.

But a strike by public transport drivers upset over high fuel prices has added to the burden of Nyala residents.

The strike apparently triggered a protest on Monday by more than 200 students, the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) told AFP.

Banditry, inter-tribal fighting, and clashes between rebel groups and government forces continue in Darfur although violence is much lower than its peak in 2003 and 2004 after non-Arab tribes rose up against the Khartoum government.

 

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