KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s army has killed more than 300 fighters from Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in recent clashes and 75 of its own soldiers also died, state media reported yesterday.
But JEM dismissed the statement as “cheap propaganda” saying it prevailed in the clashes.
Peacekeepers confirmed the Sudanese army had clashed with JEM forces two and possibly three times this week, part of a surge in violence since the insurgents suspended participation in peace talks in early May.
General Al-Tayeb al-Musbah Osman told the state Suna news agency the army had destroyed scores of JEM vehicles and recaptured fuel tankers seized by the rebels.
“They want to divert attention from their defeat,” JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told Reuters, saying his movement had taken government prisoners in the clashes.
Faltering peace talks have done nothing to quell the fighting, which first flared in 2003 when mostly non-Arab insurgents took up arms against the government, demanding more autonomy.
Tension is high in Darfur, days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to face charges of orchestrating genocide during the counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur.
The court last year indicted Bashir on seven charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Sudan refuses to recognise the court and accuses Western media of exaggerating the conflict.
Darfur’s joint UN/African Union peacekeeping force said this week the army had clashed with JEM fighters near the Adola mountains and near Kuma in north Darfur on Tuesday.
The under-equipped peacekeepers, who are supposed to cover an area the size of Spain, said they were also investigating reports of a third clash in Daba Tago, near the north Darfur settlement of Mellit.