Sudanese police have fired tear gas into a university campus where female students were protesting, university authorities say.
Between 150 and 200 female students of Ahfad University were demonstrating “against the government”, university president Gasim Badri told the AFP news agency on Monday.
He said police did not enter the campus, which is located in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman, but fired tear gas from outside the premises. There were no injuries, Badri said.
It is the eighth day of demonstrations sparked by rising fuel prices, the worst protests in the history of President Omar al-Bashir’s two-decade rule.
Authorities say 33 people have died in the past week, while activists and international human rights groups say at least 50 people have been gunned down, most of them in the greater Khartoum area. The real toll is difficult to determine but could be as much as 200, civil rights groups have told Al Jazeera.
Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Hamid said activists told her the next 10 days leading up to the Eid holiday are “crucial”, as they fear the holiday could break the momentum of the protests.
‘Fake’ victim photos
Meanwhile, also on Monday, Sudan’s Interior Minsiter Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed said that protesters were disseminating “fake” victim photos and pointed to “foreign interference” as being behind the protests.
“Most of the pictures on social media websites are from Egypt,” Hamed told reporters in Khartoum.
Khartoum governor Abdel Rahman Al-Khidir, sitting alongside Hamed, said that police only opened fire to defend their stations. Hamed said “criminal” attacks – separate from the peaceful protests – had been launched on police facilities and petrol stations.
“We know that overseas foundations are supporting these criminal activities,” Al-Khidir said, adding that about 700 people have now been arrested. “They used the same tactics that the Darfur rebels are using in Darfur,” where a decade-long conflict has raged.
Meanwhile, a senior official in Sudan’s ruling party has spoken out against the “unnecessary” deadly crackdown on demonstrators, saying the government should have instead encouraged dialogue, the AFP news agency reports.
“The fact that so many have died points to the degree of violence,” the official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, in comments that reflect divisions within the governing National Congress Party (NCP). “I believe it was unnecessary to repress the peaceful demonstrators. Peaceful demonstration is a constitutional right.”
On Saturday, Islamic religious leaders and a several members of Bashir’s National Congress Party urged the president to reverse the austerity measures. The government has scheduled a news conference for Monday, the first since the start of unrest.
Late on Sunday, about 1,000 people marched in Khartoum calling for the government’s overthrow after a ceremony mourning those gunned down last week during fuel price protests, witnesses said.
The rally began in the wealthy Mansheeya neighbourhood, which was home to Salah Mudathir, 28, a pharmacologist shot dead during a protest on Friday.
“Freedom! Freedom!” they shouted, according to the witnesses.
“A million Salah for a new dawn!” they called in a reference to the dead man.
They also demanded the fall of the regime, echoing calls made by demonstrators during the Arab Spring revolts of 2011 which toppled a succession of veteran regional leaders.
Police and security agents watched the march but did not interfere.
Activists also reported a protest in Port Sudan, the country’s biggest port on the Red Sea. Details were not immediately available.