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Army, Darfur rebels clash after ceasefire: rebels

By on February 25, 2010

Sudan’s army clashed with Darfur rebels the same day the country’s president declared the region’s war over after a ceasefire with another insurgent force, rebels said on Thursday.

French aid group Medecins du Monde said it had been forced to suspend operations because of the fighting in the central Jabel Marra region on Wednesday, but did not say who was involved.

More than 100,000 people had been displaced by fighting in the area over recent days, it added.

Sudan’s army was not immediately available for comment.

Darfur’s insurgent Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said government forces attacked at least three areas in the mountainous region on Wednesday, including the busy market town of Deribat.

“Heavy fighting was going until late into the night,” SLA spokesman Ibrahim al-Hillu told Reuters.

“The government attacked in huge numbers backed up by Antonovs, helicopter gunships and MiGs (fighter jets). This is the peace the government is offering.”

Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir declared the war in Darfur over on Wednesday, announcing the release of 57 rebels a day after signing a ceasefire and initial peace deal with the separate rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Bashir made his announcement at a Darfur rally after agreeing the temporary ceasefire with JEM in Doha on Tuesday. He also signed an agreement committing Sudan to reaching a final peace deal with the rebels by March 15.

The SLA, led by Paris-based Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, and other Darfur rebel groups have rejected the deal and the agreement came almost exactly a year after the last Khartoum/JEM ceasefire which the rebels said broke down in a day.

“Following the attack that has been launched today against the city of Deribat and fighting raging for several days in the Jabel Marra, particularly in the area Fein, Medecins du Monde is forced to suspend its medical activities throughout the area,” the agency said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

“Deribat, a city of 50,000 inhabitants, was attacked on Wednesday, causing massive flight of people and bringing to more than 100,000 the number of people displaced in the area.”

Darfur’s conflict flared in 2003 when the mostly non-Arab rebel groups of JEM and the SLA took up arms against the government, accusing it of leaving the area underdeveloped and marginalised.

Khartoum mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising, unleashing a wave of violence that Washington and some activists call genocide.

Estimates of the death toll range from up to 300,000, according to the United Nations, to 10,000 according to Khartoum.


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