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Sunday, October 08, 2006


Darfur rebels and Sudan army clash at Chad border

KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) -- Sudanese rebels opposed to a recent peace deal in Darfur clashed with government troops near Sudan's border with Chad, officials on both sides said on Sunday, and rebels said they had captured a Sudanese officer.

The violence sent scores of injured fighters from both sides streaming across the border for treatment, and 77 combatants were at a civilian hospital in Chad on Sunday morning, a humanitarian source in Chad's eastern city of Abeche said.

Both sides blamed each other for initiating hostilities on Saturday in Sudan's war-ravaged west, and rebels reported heavy fighting. There were no confirmed reports on the overall number of casualties.

"The government attacked our positions at Kari Yari dam on the Sudan-Chad border," Khalil Ibrahim, head of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement told Reuters by phone from Paris.

"We completely defeated them and captured their commander Brigadier Abdel Rahman Mohamed Abdel Rahman," he added.

A Sudanese army spokesman blamed the rebel group for the attack, saying: "This is a government camp and the rebels attacked the camp. We have not got complete information to be able to confirm if Brigadier Abdel Rahman Mohamed Abdel Rahman was captured or not."

The fighting came as Khartoum resists intense international pressure to allow some 20,000 U.N. troops to replace a poorly funded, ill-equipped African Union force of 7,000 that has been unable to stem violence and whose mandate expires at the year's end.

Roughly 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict flared in 2003 and more than 2.5 million have been displaced by fighting between Darfur rebel groups, government forces and militias. The Justice and Equality Movement is part of a new rebel alliance called the National Redemption Front, which declared renewed hostilities with the government after a May peace deal was signed by only one of three negotiating rebel factions.

Rebel commander Jar el-Naby in north Darfur told Reuters by telephone the rebels had captured around 70 vehicles and more than 100 prisoners in Saturday's fighting.

The May peace deal was meant to end three years of heavy fighting that erupted when rebel groups of impoverished Darfur took up arms against the central government in Khartoum, charging it with neglect.

But a top U.N. envoy has described the deal as comatose. Since it was signed in May, violence has escalated in Darfur with tens of thousands more forced to flee their homes and U.N. and AU reports of the government bombing villages once more.

Written by CNN.

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