KHARTOUM: Fresh protests broke out in Sudan Thursday as medical officials said 29 people were killed in three days of rioting sparked by a government decision to scrap subsidies on fuel.
The escalating protests are the largest in Sudan since President Omar al-Bashir, whose foreign ministry denied he has called off a visit to the United Nations, seized power in 1989.
Protests called for by activists took off from Inqaz district south of Khartoum, where some 3,000 people marched on the main road and hurled stones at passing-by cars, witnesses said.
Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets, they said. No casualties were yet reported.
Earlier Thursday, a hospital source in Khartoum's twin city Omdurman told AFP that "we have received the bodies of 21 people" since the protests began on Monday, adding that all were "civilians".
Another eight people were killed in other regions, witnesses and families said.
Calls for fresh protests in Khartoum on Thursday came as anti-riot forces deployed since the early morning hours at major road intersections, an AFP correspondent said.
Riots broke out in several districts of the capital on Wednesday, some near the city centre, and public transport ground to a halt.
The demonstrations continued late into the night and spread to new neighbourhoods across the capital.
"Freedom, freedom," and "The people want the fall of the regime," chanted the protesters, many of them students, borrowing the refrain of Arab Spring protests that toppled several governments in 2011.
"We came out, we came out against those who have stolen our sweat," they chanted, according to a video uploaded on YouTube Wednesday.
The protests have turned violent in some areas as protesters torched a tourism ministry building in one of Khartoum's southern districts, witnesses said, adding that only its exterior was burnt.
Demonstrations first erupted in Wad Madani in Gezira state south of Khartoum, the scene of the first death on Monday. They have also spread to Nyala, capital of South Darfur state.
The education authorities have announced the closure of schools until Monday.
The Internet remained cut on Thursday, users said, but it was still not known if the reason was a technical failure or a deliberate move by authorities.
The US embassy called on its citizens to avoid flashpoint areas, saying it had received "regrettable" reports of casualties and warning Americans of the danger of further protests.
Bashir had been scheduled to speak to world leaders on Thursday, but a UN spokesman, Jerome Bernard, told AFP that Foreign Minister Ali Karti would now address the assembly instead.
The foreign ministry denied the report and urged Washington to "respect its obligations and issue visas to... Bashir and the delegation accompanying him to New York."
Under international accords, the United States cannot refuse a visa to Bashir, who faces an international arrest warrant, but it could detain him on arrival.
The International Criminal Court has urged US authorities to arrest Bashir, who is wanted by the court in The Hague on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur conflict.
The ICC issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese leader in March 2009 and July 2010, but he has since travelled to several African countries.