Darfur rebels attack base as protests mark five years of war

DARFUR rebels said yesterday they had attacked an army base in West Darfur, killing a large number of soldiers in a renewal of fighting in the troubled area near Sudan’s western border with Chad.

Protests around the world to mark five years of war in Darfur drew thousands of people yesterday.

West Darfur has seen the worst fighting between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Darfur’s most militarily powerful rebels, and the government, with more than 100 people killed in clashes in February. Sudan accuses neighboring Chad of supporting JEM.

“The movement shot at an army helicopter and burned it completely during the battle, and hit another one although its fate is unknown,” JEM said in a statement sent yesterday.

The attack on Saturday afternoon lasted until the evening and JEM killed “a large number of government troops”, the statement said. The governor of West Darfur Abu el-Gasim confirmed there had been clashes in KishKish between army and JEM troops, but said he did not have more details.

Sudan’s army could not immediately comment on the report and officials from a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, were unavailable for comment.

International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been driven from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms five years ago.

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