KHARTOUM – Clashes between Sudanese anti-riot police and protesters in demonstrations against a rise in bread prices have killed 19 people, including two security force personnel, according to the government.
“Nineteen people lost their lives in the incidents including two from security forces,” government spokesman Boshara Juma said on state television on Thursday, adding that 219 people were wounded.
Sudanese authorities had previously said that eight people have been killed in clashes in Khartoum and several other cities since the protests began on December 19.
Amnesty International – a global rights organisation – has put the death toll at 37.
Earlier on Thursday, a network of Sudanese journalists started a strike in the wake of deadly protests sparked by an increase in bread prices.
“We declare a three-day strike from December 27 to protest against the violence unleashed by the government against demonstrators,” said the Sudanese Journalists’ Network, which advocates free speech, on Thursday, according to Reauters.
The independent network said the strike was also a protest against authorities’ “barbaric” assault on press freedom, including censorship and confiscating newspaper editions.
Journalists in Sudan frequently complain of harassment from the authorities, and the African country has a dire rating on international press freedom rankings.
Entire print runs of newspapers are often confiscated over articles deemed offensive by the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which is spearheading the ongoing crackdown on protesters.
Doctors have already been on a strike since Monday.
Activists and opposition groups have called on people to take to the streets again over the next few days.
“We urge the Sudanese people to continue their demonstrations until success is achieved by overthrowing the regime,” the Sudanese Communist Party said in a statement.
Several members of the party have been arrested by security agents since the protests started.
“We also call on all opposition parties to unite and work together to coordinate this movement.”
Protests initially started in towns and villages and later spread to Khartoum, as people rallied against the government tripling the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three ($0.02 to $0.06).
Demonstrators have also been marching against Sudan’s dire economic situation and some have called for the president’s resignation.
After the protests erupted, President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since a 1989 coup, vowed to “take real reforms” to tackle the country’s financial difficulties
Sudan is facing an acute foreign currency crisis and soaring inflation despite the lifting of an economic embargo by Washington in October 2017.
The rate of inflation is as high as 70 percent and the Sudanese pound has plunged, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.