Two leading rights groups say Sudanese police have killed at least 50 people during protests in the last week, often "shooting to kill".
A statement released by Amnesty International and the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies late on Thursday urged authorities to end violent repression of the protesters. Lucy Freeman, Amnesty's deputy chief for Africa, said the police's "aiming at protesters' chests and heads" is a "blatant violation of the right to life".
Information from Sudan is starting to flow out today after a 24 hour internet blackout. Only about five newspapers reached kiosks on Thursday, carrying mainly statements from First Vice President Ali Osman Taha denouncing violence during the protests.
Editors at three newspapers said they had either been prevented from publishing by security agents or had decided not to print to protest against state attempts to steer coverage.
Youth activists and doctors at a Khartoum hospital have told The Associated Press news agency that at least 100 people died since protests first broke out on Monday. The clashes are the worst unrest seen in Sudan's central regions for years.
"The demonstrations have turned out to be some kind of terroristic actions against the people more than the government, some sort of looting and burning gas stations and cars of the people and some areas the belong to the government and to the people as well," Ahmed Bilal Osman, Sudanese Minister of Information, told Al Jazeera. "It is not a demonstration, it is a sort of spreading chaos."
|Many petrol stations were torched in the violence [Reuters]
On Thursday, the streets of Khartoom appeared calm as people stayed away from work and schools remained closed. Long queues were forming at petrol stations. Fear of shortages came a day after many petrol stations were torched during violent protests.
The state-linked Sudanese Media Centre said schools in Khartoum state would be shut until Sept. 30. Students have been at the forefront of previous rounds of anti-government protests.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup, has been spared the sort of Arab Spring uprising that unseated autocratic rulers in states from Tunisia to Yemen since 2011, but anger has risen after the government announced another set of fuel subsidy cutbacks, causing pump prices to almost double overnight.
The cuts have been driven by a severe financial crunch since the secession of oil-producing South Sudan in 2011, which deprived Khartoum of three-quarters of the crude output it relied on for state revenues and dollars used to import food.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies