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Hundreds of Sudanese join austerity protests after prayers
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Security forces broke up demonstrations in two Khartoum suburbs with batons and tear gas on Friday as protests against Sudanese government spending cuts moved into their sixth day.
About 400 to 500 protesters began chanting "the people want to overthrow the regime" as they left the Imam Abdel Rahman mosque in the suburb of Omdurman after Friday prayers, activists and two witnesses said.
As security forces gathered, the protesters called for the police to join them, chanting: "Oh police, oh police, how much is your salary and how much is a pound of sugar?"
The police fired tear gas and then used batons as they clashed with the protesters, who threw rocks. Witnesses said men in civilian clothes also attacked the demonstrators.
Police were not immediately available for comment.
Sudan has faced soaring inflation since South Sudan seceded a year ago - taking with it about three quarters of the country's oil production - and activists have been trying to use public frustration to build a movement to topple the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Khartoum's Imam Abdel Rahman mosque is one of Sudan's largest and most famous. It is known as a center of support for the opposition Umma party.
Large demonstrations have been relatively rare in Sudan, which has avoided the "Arab Spring" protest movements which swept through neighboring Egypt and Libya. Security forces usually quickly disperse protests.
But government moves to cut spending to plug a budget gap - including scaling back fuel subsidies - sparked a spate of small demonstrations this week.
Two small protests also broke out in the northern suburb of Bahri, which police dispersed with batons, activists said. A witness confirmed the account.
A group of about 40 people joined one in Bahri, but stopped amid a heavy security presence, while around 100 people burned tires at the other protest until the police dispersed them.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Myra MacDonald)
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