More than 800 protesters jailed in Sudan
KHARTOUM - More than 800 protesters have been arrested from hundreds of anti-government demonstrations held across Sudan since last month, the interior minister said Monday.
"The total number of protesters arrested until now is 816," Ahmed Bilal Osman told parliament.
The figure was the first given by officials for those detained since deadly rallies erupted on December 19 after the government hiked bread prices.
Authorities say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed in clashes during the demonstrations, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.
Osman told lawmakers there had been a total of 381 protests reported since December 19.
He said that 118 buildings were destroyed in the protests, including 18 that belonged to police, while 194 vehicles were set on fire including 15 that belonged to international organisations.
"The demonstrations began peacefully, but some thugs with a hidden agenda used them to indulge in looting and stealing," the minister said, adding that the situation across Sudan was now "calm and stable”.
Sudanese authorities have launched a crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and journalists to prevent the spread of protests that initially broke out outside of Khartoum.
The country has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year led by an acute shortage of foreign currency.
The cost of some commodities including medicines has more than doubled and inflation has hit 70 percent.
Food and fuel shortages have been regularly reported across several cities, including Khartoum.