Sudan detains main opposition leader after week of protests: report

Sudanese students run during a demonstration in the capital Khartoum on December 9, 2012, as they rallied in support of four dead students originally from the conflict-plagued Darfur region, witnesses said. The death of the four has prompted a re-emergence of Arab Spring-inspired calls for the downfall of the government.

Leading Sudanese opposition leader Farouk Abu Issa today told Reuters that he was being held by security forces. 

"I'm now in the security agency's offices," Issa, thought to be around 80 years old, said by phone. It was not immediately clear why he had been arrested, and the report could not be independently confirmed. 

Issa heads the National Consensus Forces, an opposition umbrella group. The report comes as Amnesty International today called on Sudan to end the use of forces against student protesters after a week of demonstrations shook the northeast African nation. 

The rallies were sparked by the deaths of several university students during a demonstration southeast of the capital last weekend, a rally that saw a fierce government crackdown, according to Agence-France Press

The four, Al Sadiq Yakoub Abdullah, Al Noman Ahmed Gorshi, Mohammed Yunis Neil, and Adel Mohammed Ahmed Hammad were discovered missing and their bodies later recovered, said Al-Arabiya. The four, all from the politically volatile Darfur region, were found dead in a canal, according to NPR. Opposition activists were quick to blame government forces, and the incident sparked a wave of youth-led protests throughout the country. 

"The response to the recent protests is deeply troubling," Amnesty International's Audrey Gaughran said today. "With reports that some protesters are planning to return to the streets to continue demonstrations, it is vital that the Sudanese authorities' repressive methods are curtailed before more people are harmed.”

Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party on Wednesday issued a statement of protest over the students' deaths, calling them a "national disaster" and promising "strong" demonstrations in protest, according to the Sudan Tribune.

Student activist Ahmed al-Qureshi's death led to the “October Revolution” that overthrew the ruling military regime in Sudan in 1964, said Al-Arabiya