Sudan Islamist party activist dies in detention: family

Anti-government protests have rocked Sudan since late December (AFP Photo/-)

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

Ahmed al-Kheir, a 36-year-old teacher, was a member of the Islamist 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 AFP.

"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 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.

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.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, 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 rallies 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 lawmakers 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.