Sudan police break up protests in Kassala, Al-Managel

            KHARTOUM (AA) - Sudanese police on Wednesday forcibly dispersed several popular demonstrations against the country’s steadily deteriorating economic situation.</p>    <p>Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that police had dispersed hundreds of demonstrators in the eastern city of Kassala and the central city of Al-Managel.<br />  </p>  <p>In both cities, police used teargas to disperse demonstrators, a number of whom were reportedly arrested by the authorities. <br />

In Al-Managel, witnesses said protesters had gathered outside the city’s "Old Cinema" district before being forcibly dispersed by police.

In a statement, Sudan’s Professional Association said it expects at least 12 cities throughout the country to host major demonstrations on Thursday.

Since mid-December, several Sudanese states have been rocked by protests, with demonstrators decrying the government’s apparent failure to rein in inflation and remedy acute commodity shortages.

At least 19 people have been killed in the demonstrations, although some opposition figures put the number at closer to 40.

President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, has pledged to carry out economic reforms amid ongoing calls by the opposition to protest.

A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output — its main source of foreign currency — when South Sudan seceded in 2011.