Darfur rebels say 200 killed in clashes with army
KHARTOUM — Darfur's most militarised rebel group said on Friday it had killed 200 Sudanese government troops in the western region, but the army denied the toll in the latest fighting to cloud troubled peace talks.
"The Sudanese army fled the villages of Daeen and Shaariya in the eastern part of south Darfur after we killed 200 of their troops" between Wednesday and Thursday, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) commander Suleiman Sandal told AFP.
"We lost four of our members in the clashes," he said, speaking by satellite phone.
But the army denied the death toll, accusing the JEM of using civilians as "human shields".
"These numbers are inaccurate and baseless," army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled told AFP, without providing any alternative figures.
"The rebels entered the village of Um Saouna in the eastern part of south Darfur, using civilians as human shields," Khaled said.
"Our forces are surrounding the village but we will not fight with the Justice and Equality Movement inside the village for fear of causing civilian casualties," he said.
The Khartoum government and the JEM have suspended peace talks since the rebel group accused the Sudanese army of attacking its positions last month.
It said that Khartoum was trying to impose a "military solution" in the seven-year-old conflict, which the United Nations estimates has killed 300,000 people.
Khartoum says 10,000 people have died since ethnic rebels took up arms in 2003.