By Simon Martelli (AFP) – Jan 31, 2011
KHARTOUM, Sudan — A student beaten by police during violent anti-government demonstrations in Khartoum has died of his wounds in Omdurman hospital, his colleagues said on Monday, a claim denied by the police.
"Mohammed Abdulrahman was injured in clashes with the police outside Ahlia University yesterday afternoon. He was taken to Omdurman hospital and died at around 3:00 am," one colleague, who participated in the demonstration, told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Two other students said Abdulrahman had fallen during the clashes and was taken to the hospital, where medics informed them that he had died early on Monday.
But the police later denied that anyone had died in Sunday's protests.
"The police call on all citizens to take the information from official sources and not pay any attention to the rumors which are aimed at undermining security and stability," a statement said.
The demonstration at Ahlia University, in which around 500 students chanted anti-government slogans, was one of several in Khartoum, its twin city Omdurman and El-Obeid, a city west of the capital.
Protesters were confronted by a heavy police presence, and the ensuing clashes led to at least 64 arrests and left many wounded.
On Monday, the government order both Ahlia and the Islamic University of Omdurman to close for a week, and the director of Khartoum University, Mustafa Idris al-Bashir, was dismissed after protesters fought with police there.
Sunday's demonstrations followed calls by the "30 January" Facebook group for youth to take to the streets and stage peaceful anti-government rallies across Sudan.
The Facebook group, which boasts around 17,000 members, hailed Abdulrahman as a "martyr" who followed in the footsteps of another student killed in the October 1964 popular uprising that toppled the military regime then in power.
"Al-Gorashy was a martyr for us. And you are our martyr now, Mohammed Abdulrahman," it said in large red lettering.
Vice President Ali Osman Taha on Monday echoed earlier statements by senior officials that the government does not fear popular protests of the kind that have shaken the regime of President Hosni Mubarak in neighbouring Egypt but said they must be "within the law."
"The government is not afraid of anything. Freedom exists within the law, and anyone who wants to express himself has to do so within the law," Taha told a news conference in Khartoum.
Another senior member of the ruling National Congress Party branded Sunday's protests "illegal and isolated."
"These protests were illegal and isolated, and the political parties behind them were acting in an illegal way, and this is not accepted," Rabie Abdul Ati told AFP.
The demonstrations came after nearly a week of turmoil in Egypt, and coincided with the first complete preliminary results from this month's vote on independence for south Sudan, which confirmed a landslide for secession.
At the Islamic University of Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, around 1,000 students shouted slogans against President Omar al-Bashir and hurled rocks at riot police, who retaliated with tear gas and batons.
At the medical faculty of Khartoum University, security officers tried to prevent some 300 student protesters from leaving the campus, but they eventually forced their way out onto the street, shouting: "Revolution against dictatorship!"
Police and security officers attacked them with batons, arresting several and forcing the students back inside the campus, which was later surrounded by more than 20 police trucks.
Widespread economic and political discontent has provoked sporadic street protests in north Sudan in recent weeks, with the security forces maintaining tight control in Khartoum.
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