, KHARTOUM, Sep 25 – Violent protests against the Sudanese government’s decision to scrap fuel subsidies raged into a third day Wednesday as public transport ground to a halt and riots broke out in parts of Khartoum.
The protests, which have cost the lives of three people, have escalated into the worst in Sudan since President Omar al-Bashir seized power in 1989.
Demonstrations spread on Wednesday to several districts of the capital, some of them near the centre, an AFP correspondent reported.
“Freedom, freedom,” and “The people want the fall of the regime,” chanted the protesters, many of them students, borrowing the refrain of the Arab Spring protests which toppled several governments in 2011.
Police fired tear gas at stone throwing demonstrators.
Shops were shut in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, with several roads cut by protesters who burnt tyres, sending black smoke billowing into the sky, and blocked access with tree trunks.
The education ministry said schools in the capital would remain shut until September 30.
The AFP correspondent reported several users saying Internet access had been cut, but it was not immediately known if this was a fault or a deliberate move by the authorities.
Vehicles were burned in the car park of a luxury hotel just 500 metres (yards) from the international airport, and a petrol station in the area was also set alight.
Police made around 20 arrests and sealed off a section of the main road to Khartoum airport.
In Khartoum North, a witness said six cars were torched, as public transport across the capital ground to a halt. “Now I have to walk 10 kilometres (six miles),” said Ahmad Amer, on his way home from work.
Two people have been killed in riots in the Khartoum area, police and the family of one of the victims said. A third person was killed south of the capital on Monday.
The protests erupted in response to the government’s announcement of steep price rises for petroleum products as it suspended subsidies in a bid to reform the economy.
On Tuesday, protesters ransacked and then torched offices of the ruling National Congress Party in Omdurman, witnesses said.