Darfur rebel group JEM [now part of NRF - the group that aims to overthrow* the regime in Khartoum] said Sudanese government forces had shelled the area of Kulkul, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from North Darfur's capital Al-Fasher, Sudan Tribune
"The battle is still continuing," Izz Al-Din Yusuf of the JEM told the daily Al-Ray Al-Aam.
It vowed to retaliate after claiming the government used military planes to quell the unrest, effectively "disregarding an air embargo in that area."
"We will enter Al-Fasher and occupy the airport if the government continues shelling them by planes," Yusuf said, warning citizens to evacuate the area.
The United Nations and African Union missions in Sudan denounced Friday’s attack on the JEM, saying they were "deeply concerned about the fighting."
"The Khartoum regime has begun implementing a military project that aims at an all-out assault on the parties which did not sign the farcical Abuja 'agreement'," JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam said.
[*Ref Sudan Watch June 2, 2006
: "If we do not get our own sovereignty, the only alternative is a forceful change of the government in Khartoum," Khalil Mohammed, Chairman of Darfur rebel group JEM, threatened; Khalil Ibrahim, who took part in talks with Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek on Wednesday, told the Slovenian public broadcaster that his JEM would seek independence if there was no peace in Darfur. "Now as the next step that means that we will ask for self-determination - we're going to have our own country," Khalil told TV Slovenija, which said that this is the first time he has mentioned the possibility of independence]