A top Sudanese security official says authorities have released 80 people detained over recent anti-government protests.

Gen. Mohamed Attal al-Mullah says the detainees had engaged in "sabotage" and were accused by the government of trying to harm public safety and national security, according to reports Thursday in Sudanese newspapers.

But Activist Abdelgadir Mohammed tells The Associated Press that although some detainees were freed Thursday, he but doubts as many as 80 were released.

He says an estimated 2,000 or more are still languishing in Sudanese prisons after arrests in over a dozen cities in recent months.

Rights groups say Sudanese forces used gunfire to break up a protest last month, killing at least seven protesters.

The protests, inspired by Arab Spring uprisings, have denounced the regime and its austerity measures.