Sudanese security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters in central Khartoum on Monday, witnesses said, as activists called for more rallies against the government and economic hardships on the eve of Independence Day.
Officers made dozens of arrests, others looked on from rooftops and armoured vehicles with machine guns parked up in surrounding streets as some in the crowd chanted: "The people want the fall of the regime".
Anger over rising prices, shortages of basic commodities and a cash crisis has fuelled demonstrations across Sudan over the past two weeks.
In Khartoum on Monday, the main rally broke into smaller demonstrations downtown against President Omar al-Bashir and his handling of the economy, witnesses said.
Several lawyers on strike outside courthouses in Khartoum and in Sudan's second-largest city Wad Madani were also arrested, one of the lawyers said.
Authorities have shut schools and declared states of emergency in several regions since protests first broke out in the northeastern city of Atbara on Dec. 19. Security forces have repeatedly used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition against demonstrations, witnesses say.
According to official figures, at least 19 people have been killed, including two military personnel - Amnesty International last week said it estimated the death toll was nearly double that.
The president, addressing police generals on Sunday, cited a Quran verse about retribution in an apparent defence of security measures against protesters: "What is retribution? It's killing, is it not? It is execution. Our Lord described as life because it is a means of deterring others so that we can maintain security."
Activists and opposition figures had renewed calls on Sunday for mass protests on Monday, before Sudan's independence day anniversary, Jan. 1.
Bashir is expected to deliver a nationwide address to mark the holiday later on Monday.
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