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Government has issued orders to suppress protest using any measure of force.
KHARTOUM -- Sudan's top police chief ordered his forces Saturday to quell "firmly and immediately" anti-government demonstrations that have entered their seventh day, while opposition groups reported a security crackdown on their leading members.
Gen. Hashem Othman al-Hussein told his aides to confront the "riots ... and the groups behind them," the official SUNA news agency reported. It was a rare acknowledgement by the state media of demonstrations that have been concentrated in Khartoum but have also spread to a provincial capital.
Protesters hurled stones, burned tyres and blocked roads in the Sudanese capital on Saturday, the eighth day of widening unrest sparked by rising prices, reporters said.
Witnesses reported five separate demonstrations across the city after nightfall despite a police order to stamp out the unrest.
In Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, a reporter saw separate groups of about 100 protesters scattering when police arrived firing tear gas or wielding batons.
The demonstrations, which began with students outside the University of Khartoum on June 16, now involve a cross-section of the population, the reporter said.
In one area, residents pelted police with stones when they tried to extinguish tyres burning in the street, the reporter said.
Throughout the city, shouts against high food prices mixed with calls for freedom and an end to the 33-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir.
The people are "fed up," said a taxi driver coping with a government-imposed fuel price increase of about 50 percent which took effect this week.
Witnesses in the Burri area said police tear gas had seeped into residents' homes after they fired at protesters.
In the potholed Khartoum district of Al-Deim, scene of some of the largest unrest on Friday when protests spread across the capital, protesters burnt tyres and rubbish and formed roadblocks.
A reporter saw one youth dragging a large piece of metal to create a barricade.
Blue-uniformed riot police lined a main road through the area which smelled of tear gas as stones thrown by protesters rained down.
Police and plain-clothed state intelligence agents have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, using tear gas, batons and whips against protesters.
The Sudanese Media Centre (SMC), which is close to the security apparatus, on Saturday reported that police have been given an order for "immediate suppression of the demonstrations and rioters, under the law."
Two witnesses in the eastern city of Gedaref said that about 200 people gathered in the main market where they denounced the high cost of food before police dispersed them with batons.
"We will not be governed by a dictatorship!" they shouted, the witnesses said.
Poverty is endemic in Gedaref and the two other eastern states of Kassala and Red Sea.
London-based watchdog Amnesty International said "scores of activists" have been arrested over the past several days.
The demonstrations symbolise "mass rejection of the regime's oppressive policies and its failure in governing this country," said Sudan Change Now, an activist youth movement.
Inflation has risen each month, hitting 30.4 percent in May, before Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul on Wednesday announced the scrapping of fuel subsidies, causing an immediate jump in the price of petrol.
Bankrupt Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained independence last July leaving the north struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports.
The country's poverty rate is 46.5 percent, the United Nations says.
"The government must immediately retract the austerity measures it has adopted which reflect the distortion in its expenditure which continues to prioritise defence and security at the expense of social services," Sudan Change Now said.
Bashir, an army officer who seized power in 1989, withstood earlier student-led protests by thousands of people objecting to high prices in 1994.
Sudan's latest demonstrations remain small compared with the mass uprising that swept neighbouring Egypt last year and toppled another long-time strongman, president Hosni Mubarak.
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