Darfur rebels say they defeated Sudan army attack
KHARTOUM — The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Friday accused Sudanese forces of attacking them in Darfur and seeking to impose a military solution in the western region despite a peace pact.
"They attacked our positions on Friday using 25 vehicles in the Dereisa sector southwest of Zalingei, but we defeated them," JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein told AFP by telephone from the Qatari capital, Doha.
Zalingei is about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Sudan's border with Chad.
The rebels said they killed about a dozen soldiers in the clash, but the Sudanese military could not be reached for comment.
UNAMID, the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force, said it had no information on reports of fighting.
"The National Congress Party (of Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir) does not want a negotiated peace, but a military solution to the problem of Darfur," Hussein said.
"After the election he will implement a policy that favours war, not peace."
He also charged that the Sudanese military was planning a huge offensive in the rebel stronghold of Jebel Moon near the Chad border.
JEM and the Sudanese government in February signed a framework peace pact in Doha which was hailed by the international community as a major step towards bringing peace to Darfur after seven devastating years of war.
But talks between Khartoum and JEM have since run into trouble, and a deadline set under the accord for completing the peace deal passed on March 15 without agreement.
JEM, the largest militant rebel group in Darfur, on March 29 threatened to resume its armed struggle if the talks hit a dead end.
It had also demanded a delay in Sudan's first multi-party elections in more than two decades, but the poll went ahead from April 11 to 15. Results of the election, which was marred by opposition boycotts, are still awaited.
Darfur, an arid desert region the size of France, has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed some 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.