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Death figures spiral in fuel price protest in Sudan

Government states 29 died but doctors count 113 in capital

Rights activists have denied claims by Sudanese authorities that 29 people had died in the last week's fuel price demonstrations and said the figure was at least 50.

But the Communist Party of Sudan warned that even these figures were low and over 60 had died on Wednesday night alone. It said the total deaths for the week far exceeded that number.

Doctors confirmed that at least 100 people had died in the protests since Monday.

But Sayyed Qanata, a physician at the main hospital in Khartoum's Omdurman district, said his hospital had recorded 113 deaths in Khartoum alone.

Hundreds of Sudanese activists, protesters, students and members of opposition parties have also been arrested.

The Communist Party warned that "forces under the leadership of Minister Kamal Abdelateef were ordered to shoot on sight and kill all demonstrators.

"The result was a massacre of young people, women and children. Scores of people were left dead in the streets of Umbada, Gabra, Diem and Khartoum North."

It called for the continuation of mass demonstrations and demanded an immediate stop to "this war against the people."

Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies agreed that police were operating "shooting to kill" policies when they moved to quell angry protests over the government's cut in fuel subsidies.

"Shooting to kill - including by aiming at protesters' chests and heads - is a blatant violation of the right to life and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression," said Amnesty Africa deputy director Lucy Freeman.

Amnesty said that Khartoum newspaper editors had been summoned and instructed to only publish police statements on the violence and one paper Al-Sudani was banned on Thursday for its anti-government stance.

But the violence did not deter protesters who were gathering for marches again yesterday under the eyes of troops armed with machineguns.

President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the the International Criminal Court in The Hague on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

In Britain, the Communist Party is picketing the Sudanese embassy tomorrow from 1 to 4pm in Cleveland Row, London, SW1A. The picket will be followed by a public meeting from 5pm.

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