Sudan denies launching fresh attack on Darfur rebels

SUDAN yesterday denied Darfur rebel reports that its troops had attacked their camps, breaking a ceasefire and a peace deal signed this month to end the conflict which has killed tens of thousands.

The peace deal was signed under intense global pressure on May 5 between the government and one main rebel faction. But two other rebel factions refused to sign, saying the deal was unfair. Thousands of Darfuris have demonstrated against the deal.

On Sunday the faction which signed the deal belonging to Minni Arcua Minnawi, said the government and its militia attacked its bases in Dar es Salaam in north Darfur.

“We the armed forces did not attack any areas, not Dar es Salaam or anywhere,” said the armed forces spokesman’s office in Khartoum.

The African Union said Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, had been massing in Darfur and exchanged fire with its soldiers. They could not confirm any government attacks on rebels.

Clashes have continued unabated despite the peace deal between militias and rebels.

The government, which the United Nations says armed the Janjaweed to fight the rebels, denies it is using the militias.

The Janjaweed stand accused of a widespread campaign of rape, looting and killing which drove two million Darfuris from their homes.

The government admits arming some tribes to fight the rebels in early 2003 but denies any links to the Janjaweed, calling them outlaws.

Yesterday, Minnawi’s faction said the government was using Antonov planes as air cover for large troop movements in north Darfur in preparation for an attack. The areas of control are not clearly marked so both the government and the rebels claim some areas as theirs.

“They are trying to get as much territory as possible before the UN troops come in,” said a spokesman for Minnawi’s Sudan Liberation Army faction.

The cash-strapped African Union force has asked for a UN transition in Darfur.

Sudan, prior to the peace deal, had refused a UN force and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending top diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi for high-level talks in Khartoum today hoping to secure a breakthrough.

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