Sudan: Professors detained in anti-Bashir protest

University professors have been arrested in Khartoum in the eighth week of deadly protest against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Doctors have also rallied outside state and private hospitals.

Sudanese security agents detained 14 professors on Tuesday in the capital. They were demonstrating as part of a wave of protest prompted in mid-December by a government decision to cut a foodstuffs subsidy, resulting in a tripling of bread prices.

Read more: Bashir wanted by ICC, seeks Russian shelter

University of Khartoum professor Mamdouh Mohamed Hassen said 14 colleagues from his campus and other universities had been taken away by security agents while heading to a sit-in.

Witnesses cited by The Associated Press said doctors had also rallied in the capital and other Sudanese cities. Video footage showed demonstrators at intersections and holding banners marked "no to torturing and killing protesters."

On Monday, Human Rights Watch had called on the UN Security Council to respond to "irrefutable evidence" of torture.

Professionals lead

The protests, the most sustained challenge to Bashir's three decades of rule, have claimed at least 45 lives since December 19, according to rights groups.

Alongside unions and students, one of the protest leaders has been the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of qualified specialists, including doctors, engineers and teachers.

Last Friday, protesters rallied in Sudan's eastern town of Khashm el-Girba after the death in custody of a teacher, Ahmed al-Kheir.

Relatives blamed his death on agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

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Women detained

On Sunday, police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who converged on a prison in Omdurman — Sudan's second city, across the Nile from Khartoum — to demand the release of female detainees.

Young women were taken away in at least four pick-up trucks, according to Reuters.

Also on Sunday, dozens of doctors protested inside a state hospital at El-Obeid, the capital of Sudan's North Kordofan state, about 360 kilometers (220 miles) southwest of Khartoum.

Unmoved

Bashir, who seized power during a military coup in 1989, has shown no signs of bowing to demands to quit. He blamed the unrest on unnamed foreign powers, and said he would run in fresh elections.

Read more: Bashir's pitch to international powers

Backing the protests has been Sadiq al-Mahdi, former premier and head of the opposition Umma Party.

On Monday, Sudan's Central Statistics Agency said the nation's inflation rate had declined to 43 percent in January, compared to 73 percent in December.

ipj/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)