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Police clash with Sudan protesters following soaring bread prices

Bread prices have nearly tripled in Sudan [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2018

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Prices of bread have skyrocketed in Sudan - a staple in the country - after the government froze the import of wheat leading to a flour shortage at bakeries.

Police in Sudan clashed with protesters on Sunday in the capital Khartoum and other areas after anger erupted after bread prices more than doubled this week.

Flour manufacturers raised prices amid dwindling wheat supplies after the government halted grain imports and instead allowed private companies to do so.

Anti-riot police fired tear gas at stone-throwing students outside Khartoum University, an AFP correspondent reported. Others have blocked off roads and burned tires.

Similar protests erupted in war-torn areas of Darfur and Blue Nile states, witnesses said.

"No, no to high bread prices!" chanted students and residents in the Blue Nile town of Damazin, witnesses said.

Similar chants were heard at rallies in the Darfur towns of Nyala and Geneina.

Pictures and videos of protests were quickly uploaded to social media sites.

"The price of bread is only rising in Nyala because many bakeries closed due to the shortage of flour," one resident told AFP by telephone.

A government official in Nyala said the situation there was under control.

"Police have dispersed the protesters. Our security forces are ready to deal with any disturbances," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bread prices have almost tripled after the cost of flour surged to 450 Sudanese pounds ($25) for a 50-kilo (110-pound) sack from 167 pounds.

Leading opposition groups called for anti-government protests in response to the price rise.

Earlier on Sunday, security agents seized the print runs of six newspapers after they criticised the government over the rising cost of bread.

"No reason was given for confiscating copies of our newspaper, but I think it was due to our transparent coverage of the food price rise," said Hanadi al-Sidiq, editor of Akhbar al-Watan.

Its entire run seized along with al-Tayar, al-Mustagilla, al-Karar, al-Midan and al-Assayha newspapers.

Sudanese media are often targeted over their reporting, while the country ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings.

Sporadic protests erupted in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

Dozens of people were killed in 2013 when large demonstrations were crushed by a brutal crackdown by government forces.

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