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Sudan deploys troops after 8 killed in bread protests



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Sudan deployed troops in the capital Khartoum and other cities on Friday, witnesses said, after eight demonstrators were killed in clashes with riot police during protests over increased bread prices.

A government decision to raise the price of a loaf of bread this week from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents) has sparked protests across the country.

On Thursday, riot police in Khartoum fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators near the presidential palace, witnesses said.

Six demonstrators were killed in the eastern city of Al-Qadarif and two others in Atbara, also east of Khartoum, officials said on Thursday.

On Friday, the weekly day of rest, calm returned to the capital and the cities that were rocked by the deadly protests, witnesses reported.

In Khartoum, traffic was backed to normal but police patrolled some of the streets while in the north of the capital soldiers deployed around petrol stations and banks.

The police driving in patrol cars were seen carrying clubs and tear gas canisters while the troops held Kalashnikov assault rifles, the witnesses said.

An AFP reporter said lines formed outside bakeries in north Khartoum as residents waited to buy bread.

Residents in Al-Qadarif and Atbara also reported that security forces had deployed to secure government buildings and banks.

“Today the city is calm and most of the shops in the main market have reopened,” Mohammed Sharif Omar said in a telephone interview from Al-Qadarif.

But he said that army vehicles were stationed outside banks and government buildings.

On Thursday angry protesters torched the headquarters of President Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party in Atbara and set fire to NCP offices in two other locations.

And in Al-Qadarif, demonstrators threw stones at banks and smashed cars before torching the NCP headquarters in the city, according to a resident.

Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year.

The cost of some commodities has more than doubled, inflation is running at close to 70 percent and the pound has plunged in value.

The cost of bread has also risen and shortages have been reported for the past three weeks across several cities, including Khartoum.

Protests broke out in January over the rising cost of food, but they were soon brought under control with the arrest of opposition leaders and activists.