JEM rebels clashed with pro-government forces in Sudan's N. Darfur state near Chad border
Saturday, 09 May 2009 (AFP) EL-FASHER, Sudan - excerpt:
Justice and Equality Movement rebels clashed with pro-government forces in Sudan's North Darfur state near the border with Chad on Saturday, the JEM and UN peacekeepers said.
"There were air raids this morning near Umm Baru," northwest of the North Darfur capital of El-Fasher, an official with the JEM, Darfur's most active rebel group, told AFP.
A spokesman for the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said the joint force had received reports that JEM rebels had clashed with army troops backed by SLA-Minnawi fighters, but could not confirm the reports.
"We received reports of the fighting ... but we cannot directly confirm them," UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni told AFP, adding that the clashes were apparently over.
According to Mezni, around 160 people, mostly women, children and the elderly, took refuge at the UNAMID base in Umm Baru during the fighting.
The SLA-Minnawi is a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minnawi, rebel leader turned presidential advisor after his group signed a peace accord with the Khartoum government in May 2006.
Sudanese army spokesman Osman al-Aghbash denied the army was involved in any fighting on Saturday in Darfur. "The clashes pitted the JEM against the SLA-Minnawi," Aghbash said.
The clashes were the first involving the JEM in over two months in Darfur.
On Wednesday, the JEM resumed Qatari-brokered talks with Sudanese government officials aimed at reaching an agreement for lasting peace in war-ravaged Darfur. [...]