January 7, 2019 / 8:18 PM / in 9 days

More than 800 detained in Sudan protests: government

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan said on Monday it had detained more than 800 people since protests began nearly three weeks ago in the most persistent challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.

The figure, the first given by authorities since the unrest erupted, was far below the assessment of a leading human rights activist who said about 2,000 people were detained.

In a report to parliament, Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Othman added that 381 demonstrations had taken place and 127 police officers were injured during the demonstrations triggered by price rises and shortages of cash. He said 14 police bases and more than 100 police cars had been burned around Sudan.

Authorities say 19 people, including two security officials, have died, while global rights group Amnesty International said on Dec. 24 it had credible reports 37 protesters had been killed by bullets from security forces.

Officers have been using live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters, witnesses say.

Activist Barraq al-Nathir al-Warraq said on Friday that security forces had detained around 2,000 people, including political activists, journalists and civil society members.

Authorities have called for restraint in response to the protests, which they blame on unnamed infiltrators.

Sudan’s economy has struggled from the loss of three quarters of its oil output - its main source of foreign currency - since South Sudan seceded in 2011, keeping most oilfields.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, writing by Lena Masri; editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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