Sudan protests: Authorities order release of all detainees

Image source, AFP
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Fresh anti-government protests broke out in Omdurman, near Khartoum, on Tuesday

Authorities in Sudan have ordered the release of all detainees held during weeks of anti-government protests.

The release was ordered by Sudan's intelligence and security chief, Salah Ghosh, the information ministry said in a statement. No reason was given.

More than 1,000 people are reported to have been detained in the protests, which began in December.

President Omar al-Bashir has blamed the unrest on "foreign agents" and rebel groups in the Darfur region.

Meanwhile, riot police in the capital Khartoum used tear gas to disperse dozens of demonstrators in the Burri district on Tuesday, witnesses said.

There were also anti-government protests in the nearby city of Omdurman and in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan.

The demonstrations started over cuts to bread and fuel subsidies, but later developed into anger at the president's 30-year rule.

Rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed in clashes with security forces.

"The chief of the National Intelligence and Security Service issued an order to release all detainees held in the ongoing incidents," Tuesday's statement said.

BBC Africa editor Will Ross says it seems unlikely that the move will appease the protesters. Anger is growing and anti-government sentiment shows no sign of petering out, he adds.

Image source, Reuters
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The nationwide rallies have called for President Bashir to step down

Those detained included opposition leaders, activists and journalists.

Activists quoted by Reuters news agency said the announcement came after Salah Ghosh visited a prison in Khartoum.

President Bashir has acknowledged problems in the country, but said they were being exaggerated by the media.