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Protesters demonstrate against teacher's death in Sudanese detention

Ahmed al-Kheir died from wounds suffered while in detention after he was arrested by security agents
Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since 19 December (Reuters)

Sudanese protesters rallied after Friday prayers in an eastern town against the death in custody of a teacher arrested in connection with anti-government demonstrations sweeping the country, witnesses said.

An investigator on Thursday confirmed that teacher Ahmed al-Kheir, 36, had died from wounds sustained while in detention after he was arrested last week by security agents in the eastern town of Khashm el-Girba.

Amer Ibrahim, the head of a committee at the prosecutor's office investigating protest-related violence in Sudan, told reporters that Kheir had "died of wounds suffered on his body" while in detention.

"The cause of death is from various injuries to his body from a solid, flexible object, to his back, kidneys and thighs, and between his legs," he said.  

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Agents of the country’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested Kheir, his uncle Ahmed Abdelwahad told AFP.

The investigator said he had requested the regional NISS boss bring in the security agents who interrogated the teacher.

The arrest and death of Kheir apparently contradicts reports from late last month, where NISS chief Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, also known as Salah Ghosh, issued an order to release all detainees arrested in the protests, AFP reported, citing the country's information ministry.

The ministry did not specify how many detainees would be affected by the decision, nor did it provide further details about what "recent incidents" meant.

On Friday, crowds of protesters in Khashm el-Griba staged a rally after the weekly Muslim prayers to protest his death.

"We will sacrifice our soul, our blood for you," chanted the protesters as they converged from several mosques, a witness told AFP by telephone.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since 19 December, with demonstrators holding nationwide rallies calling on President Omar al-Bashir to resign.

Officials say 30 people have died in the violence, while activists say at least 55 have been killed.

Demonstrators on Friday also staged rallies in a district of Khartoum and in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital, witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas as protesters rallied chanting "freedom, freedom" after Friday prayers outside a mosque in Omdurman run by the main opposition Umma party, witnesses said.

Police dispersed the protesters but the Umma Party said tear gas canisters hit the compound of the mosque.

"The security forces of the regime fired tear gas inside the El-Saed Abdelrahman mosque compound and at the cars of Sadiq al-Mahdi," the party said in a statement late on Friday, referring to the head of the party.

"Several worshippers have been wounded. We condemn this incident."

The party said that security personnel came close to "worshippers and pointed their weapons at their faces".

Police and security officials were not available for comment.

Umma's head, former premier Mahdi, has thrown his weight behind the protests and called on Bashir to step down.

Bashir, who has refused to resign, swept to power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup that ousted Mahdi's elected government.

Protests first erupted after a government decision to triple the price of bread but soon escalated into rallies against Bashir's three-decade-old rule.