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Violence flares as army seizes rebel stronghold in Darfur

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2010-05-15

Sudan's army claimed Saturday to have seized a key rebel stronghold in Darfur, alleging to have killed 108 members of the Justice and Equality Movement in the fighting. The violence threatens already fragile peace negotiations in the region.

AFP - Sudanese army forces said on Saturday they have seized control of a key Darfur rebel stronghold, killing 108 members of the Justice and Equality Movement in the restive Jebel Moon area.

"We have liberated Jebel Moon from the Justice and Equality Movement and killed 108 members. We have detained 61 rebels and confiscated 16 cars and three large trucks," army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled told reporters in Khartoum.

Sudanese television showed footage of senior military officials after the end of the clashes visiting Jebel Moon in western Darfur at around 1:00 am local time (Friday, 2200 GMT).

Khaled made no mention of casualties on the army side, while the JEM, Darfur's most militarised rebel group, was not immediately available for comment.

Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmud also told reporters that central police forces had thwarted a JEM attack in southern Darfur earlier this week.

According to police, JEM rebels on Thursday "attacked a convoy carrying food destined for the citizens of Darfur but the attack was thwarted by central police forces who were protecting the convoy."

But JEM said it did not attack but was acting in self-defence.

"It is completely false. Our forces were defending themselves from attack by the army which has intensified its operations since the end of elections" in Sudan on April 15, Ahmed Hussein Adam, a JEM spokesman, told AFP by telephone.

Khartoum and the JEM have suspended peace talks after the rebel group accused Sudan's military of attacking its positions last month.

It said that Khartoum was trying to impose a "military solution" to the seven-year-old Darfur conflict, which the United Nations estimates has killed 300,000 people.

Khartoum, which says 10,000 people died since Darfuri ethnic rebels took up arms in 2003, denied having launched an offensive.

On Friday, Adam said his group was leaning towards quitting the negotiations altogether. "We are still suspending our participation in the negotiations, and we are closer to withdrawing from the negotiations in Qatar," he told AFP.

"We are in a true state of war after the government reneged on the ceasefire agreement," he said.

The two sides agreed in February to a ceasefire but a deadline to formalise a peace treaty expired in March.
 

Date created : 2010-05-15

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