Sudanese police acted firmly to disperse students blocking a main road in Khartoum in a protest against austerity measures.

On the fifth day of protests, about 200 students stopped traffic in the city centre and threw stones at police, who broke up the rally by using their batons, as well as firing tears gas and warning shots.

The students chanted "Khartoum rise up, rise up, we won't be ruled by a thief", "No, no to inflation" and "The people want to overthrow the regime", witnesses said.

"I urged the police forces in Khartoum to deal with protesters according to the law, but to deal firmly with any unlawful activity in the name of protest," state governor Abdel Rahman Khedr said.

Sudan's main opposition parties have urged their supporters to take to the streets, but the rallies have largely been attended by students.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, rallies against spending cuts started after military president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, announced the government plan on 18 June.

A report by the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs reported that police arrested 79 people during a protest on 18 June and 40 members of opposition groups at a separate meeting.

Khedr also sacked members of his staff as a financial measure to absorb the loss of about 75 percent of the country's oil output due to South Sudan's secession in July 2011.

The African nation has also faced soaring food prices and a weakening currency.

The International Monetary Fund called on the Sudanese government to take emergency measures to cope with the "daunting" challenges that the country faces.

Sudan's drop in oil income caused a $2.4bn (£1.5bn) budget deficit and a surge in inflation to 30.4 percent last month.

The measures announced by al-Bashir include devaluing the Sudanese pound, removing fuel subsidies, raising taxes and cutting the size of the national and regional governments by as much as 56 percent, Bloomberg reported.

The Central Bank of Sudan has announced plans to inject more foreign currency into the market to stabilise the exchange rate.

An Egyptian journalist who was arrested while covering the anti-government protests has been released.

Salma El-Wardany, who works for Bloomberg and the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, was handcuffed outside Khartoum University along with other activists and bloggers.