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Sudan Islamist party activist dies after three days in detention

Family of teacher who was arrested over anti-government protests say 'there were marks of beatings on his back'
Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence, while rights groups have put the death toll at more than 40, including medics and children (Reuters)

A member of Sudan's top Islamist party has died in detention just days after he was arrested in connection with anti-government rallies that have rocked the country for weeks, a relative said on Saturday.

Ahmed al-Kheir, a 36-year-old teacher, was a member of the Popular Congress Party, which is part of President Omar al-Bashir's government but has called for a probe into the deaths of protesters.

Security agents took Kheir from his home in the city of Khashm El-Girba in the eastern state of Kassala three days ago, his uncle Ahmed Abdelwahab told the AFP news agency.

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"We didn't know where they took him, but security agents said at that time that he was one of the organisers of protests," Abdelwahab said.

He said the family was told that Kheir had been brought to Kassala hospital on Saturday morning, but they were later directed to the mortuary in the town of Gadaref.

"I saw his body there. I saw there were marks of beatings on his back."

Abdelwahab said the family took Kheir's body and buried him in their hometown.

Family members said security officials told them that Kheir died of poisoning, the Reuters news agency reported.

A doctors' committee linked to the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is leading the protest movement against Bashir's three-decade rule, confirmed Kheir's death.

Sudanese police and security officials were not immediately available for comment.

Party probe call

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since 19 December, with the SPA calling for daily nationwide rallies against Bashir's rule.

Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence, while rights groups have put the death toll at more than 40, including medics and children.

Protests first erupted against a government decision to triple the price of bread, but quickly grew into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir's rule.

The Popular Congress Party, founded by late Islamist leader Hassan Turabi, has two ministers of state in the cabinet and seven representatives in parliament.

Days after protests erupted against Bashir's government, the party called for a probe into the deaths of protesters killed during the demonstrations.