Death toll of Sudan protests rises to 24 Arab World 03:58

Sudanese protesters

"The Government of Sudan must also take immediate action to stop the practice of shooting protesters and respect the Sudanese people's right to freedom of expression", said Sarah Jackson, the human rights group's Deputy Director for East Africa.

Sudanese Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman has dismissed reports saying that Russian mercenaries are participating in the government efforts to quell popular protests that call on President Omer al-Bashir to go.

The death toll from protests in Sudan that began last month has risen to 24, the head of the Sudanese government fact-finding committee Amer Ibrahim said on Saturday.

Witnesses told AFP that police were pursuing protesters down Bahari's streets and alleys.

"It's like a cat and mouse game", a witness said.

Bashir has so far resisted calls for his resignation, accusing Western countries and other outside forces of orchestrating the protests against his rule and seeking to destabilise the country.

They also urged protests in Niyala and El-Fasher in Darfur, the first such rallies to be called in the region.

Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has been charged by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) with genocide and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

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The commission's statement came amid another day of anti-government protests, which began on 19 December when the government tripled the price of bread.

Friday's protests appeared to have drawn more people than before and were more widespread.

The crackdown has drawn worldwide criticism with Britain, Canada, Norway and the United States warning Khartoum that its actions would "have an impact" on its relations with their governments.

Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported in several cities, including Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled.

Bashir and other officials have blamed Washington for Sudan's economic woes.

The US lifted economic sanctions against Khartoum in September 2017; the United Kingdom had pledged to help Sudan write off a $53.35-billion debt, provided that Khartoum promoted dialogue and instituted democratic reforms that ensured political freedoms. It restricted Sudan from conducting global business and financial transactions.

A nation of 40 million people, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output - its main source of foreign currency - when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

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