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Tear gas fired at Sudan's Khartoum University as student unrest spreads

The government denies planning to sell off iconic university buildings, but students have continued protests for over week
Hundreds of students take part in an anti-government demonstration at Sudan's Khartoum University (AFP)

Sudanese police used tear gas Tuesday against students protesting over alleged plans to sell off buildings belonging to the oldest and most prestigious university in the country, as unrest hits universities across the country.

Some 200 students took part in a protest at the campus on the banks of the Blue Nile in central Khartoum after over a week of demonstrations against the sell-off, which the government denies planning.

Demonstrators at the main gate were swiftly confronted by dozens of riot police and plain-clothed officers when they left the campus. 

Angry students threw stones at the police who fired tear gas and also used their batons, witnesses said.

An AFP correspondent at the scene reported a thick stench of tear gas in the surrounding area.

Seven police trucks were parked near the university and dozens of policemen deployed near the campus, the correspondent reported.

The students were also protesting against the arrest of several of their peers during a similar rally last week, witnesses said.

President Omar al-Bashir’s government has denied plans to sell iconic university buildings and move the institution to a new site in the capital.

Khartoum university has seen regular anti-government protests, and is often closed by the authorities in an attempt to prevent unrest.

Activist group Girifna, which led anti-government demonstrations during widespread unrest in 2011, said there had also been fierce protests on Monday and Tuesday at universities in Port Sudan on the Red Sea and Nyala in Darfur.

Unrest at universities across the country comes as students react angrily to the death of a fellow student protestor, Abu Bakr Mohammed Taha, during demonstrations at Kordofan University in the far south of the country.

Taha had been taking part in protests last week surrounding controversial elections to the student union, which have become deeply polarised between supporters of the ruling National Congress Party and their opponents.