Sudan says Darfur rebels involved in Libyan clashes
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's Foreign Ministry accused Darfur rebels on Wednesday of involvement in Libyan violence as Muammar Gaddafi tries to quell a popular uprising.
Gaddafi has long hosted Darfur rebels, including the leader of the main rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Khalil Ibrahim who remains in Libya.
Witnesses have said Gaddafi has used African mercenaries to fight his people as he tries to crush the revolt against his rule that Italy says has killed as many as 1,000 people.
"There are elements from the Darfur rebels involved with the unfortunate events happening in Libya right now," Foreign Ministry spokesman Khalid Musa told Reuters on Wednesday.
He added the ministry had proof the rebels were involved in the clashes but declined to give any more detail.
JEM called the statement baseless and irresponsible, saying it had no fighters in Libya, just four officials from the movement who were unable to return to Darfur.
"These allegations are very offensive and show no sensitivity towards the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese who reside in Libya who will be put in jeopardy as being seen as mercenaries or taking sides," senior JEM official al-Tahir al-Feki said.
"To say that there are JEM fighters in Libya fighting for Gaddafi, this is just provoking the Libyans to go after all the Sudanese," he added.
Sudan's Foreign Ministry said there were an estimated half a million Sudanese diaspora in Libya but said they had no reports of any casualties.
Libya directly borders Darfur and Gaddafi, despite being an ally of Khartoum, has also supported the insurgents since the conflict began in 2003.
Khartoum formed an emergency group to help Sudanese fleeing the Libyan violence.
Karar al-Tohami, head of the committee, told Reuters 100-200 people had already fled across the remote border to Sudan and were being housed in a camp and that they were considering using military planes if necessary to evacuate civilians from Libya.