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Darfur rebels say attacks kill at least 20

9/14/2005 9:47am

By Amil Khan

KHARTOUM, Sept 13 (Reuters) - A senior rebel leader in Sudan's western Darfur region said on Tuesday the government killed 10 fighters and at least the same number of civilians in attacks aimed at derailing upcoming peace talks.

An armed forces spokesman denied government forces were involved in any attacks in Darfur in the run up to peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sept. 15.

"The government has attacked us for three days ... First there is shelling and then the government's militias attack us," Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, chairman of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) told Reuters.

"The government wants the talks to fail," he added.

Nur said the government was attacking SLA positions west of Sheng al-Tobei village, which is around 65 km (40 miles) south of El-Fasher, capital of North Darfur state.

"Ten SLA soldiers and 10 civilians have so far died," Nur said, adding government forces last bombarded the SLA on Tuesday morning.

SLA and government forces clashed in the same area in July and the African Union, which has troops monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Darfur, criticised the SLA for attacks on Arab nomads west of the village last month.

Nur said an SLA delegation was on its way to Abuja and had no plans to abandon the AU-organised negotiations.

"If the government carry on like this the talks will take place but will have no future," Nur added.

Sudanese and U.S. officials have said they want the latest round of peace talks to result in a peace deal to end the conflict, which started in early 2003 and has so far killed tens of thousands and forced around 2 million from their homes.

An AU official had no immediate information on the attacks but said officials were carrying out checks.

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