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Communist leader detained after Sudan demonstration

Soaring bread prices sparked a series of protests in Sudan. (AFP)
KHARTOUM: Sudanese security agents arrested the leader of the opposition Communist Party on Wednesday after it organized a protest in the capital Khartoum against rising bread prices, its spokesman told AFP.
Sporadic protests have erupted in parts of Sudan, including Khartoum, after bread prices more than doubled earlier this month following a jump in the cost of flour.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated near the presidential palace in response to a call by the Communist Party.
Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons to disperse the crowd.
Early on Wednesday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested the Communist Party’s leader, spokesman Ali Saeed said.
“Today, at 3:00 a.m. (01:00 GMT), two trucks full of armed men from NISS came to the house of our General Secretary Mokhtar Al-Khatib and took him to an unknown location,” Saeed told AFP.
“We don’t know where he is but we do know that it was NISS that took him.”
Several other senior Communist Party figures, student leaders and activists have already been arrested since the bread price protests began.
The Communist Party said its members would continue to mobilize people and organize demonstrations, while the country’s main opposition Umma Party has called an anti-government demonstration for later on Wednesday.
The protests erupted after the cost of a 50 kilo sack of flour jumped from 167 Sudanese pounds to 450 ($9 to $25) as wheat supplies dwindled following the government’s decision to leave grain imports to private companies.
So far they have been sporadic and quickly broken up by security forces. A student was killed during a protest in the western region of Darfur on Jan. 7.
Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.
The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of the deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.
Dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

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