Cairo: Sudan’s government says police have arrested 816 people in nearly three weeks of protests against the 29-year rule of President Omar Al Bashir.

Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that at least 40 people have been killed in the protests, which began on December 19, initially over price rises and shortages but soon shifted to calls for Al Bashir to step down.

Interior Minister Ahmad Bilal Othman, who gave the figure on the number of people detained, told parliament on Monday that 19 people were killed in the protests, including two members of the security forces. Al Bashir has ordered an investigation into the killings.

Authorities also have arrested scores of opposition leaders.

Human Rights Watch says security forces have been using live ammunition and excessive force against the protesters as well as arbitrary detentions.