Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has tried to downplay the growing discontent in his country over austerity measures introduced to deal with its severe economic crisis.

Following eight days of unrest, Bashir dismissed protesters as "bubbles" who will be "dealt with" and said the demonstrations were no Arab Spring.

In an address to students affiliated with his ruling National Congress Party in the capital Khartoum on 24 June, he advised them not to pay attention to a few "conspirators, traitors and collaborators" stirring up trouble and warned that he will remain in control.

"We are not afraid of being overthrown by anybody. Not America or anyone else because it is Allah who gives the rule," he said.

His comments came more than a week after the first protests erupted on 17 June, in response to the government's latest round of austerity measures, which include government cuts, fewer fuel subsidies and tax increases.

Although the protests began with students, they have since widened to include other segments of the population as the country's economic situation continues to deteriorate.

While the initial unrest was concentrated in Khartoum, demonstrations have since spread to other key towns across the country, including Al-Obaiyd in the state of North Kordofan, Madani, capital of Al-Jazzera state, and Port Sudan in the east.

Protesters burnt tyres, set up road blocks and chanted slogans denouncing the government's handling of the economic situation. Calls for the overthrow of the Bashir government are also becoming more widespread among protesters.

Demonstrations continued over the weekend and more protesters were detained.

Activists have accused the government's security forces of being heavy handed and using excessive force to disperse protesters. They have also blamed pro-regime groups for attacking demonstrators.

Many have warned against a crackdown as several students and journalists have been arrested in the past week.

More violence was reported as Sudan's Radio Dabanga said more than 50 students were arrested while demonstrating in front of the faculty of education at the University of Khartoum in the city of Omdurman, Khartoum state.

Women also held protests in Omdurman against soaring good prices.

The Sudanese Organisation for Defending Rights and Freedoms urged the government to release all the protesters and activists who have been detained.