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Rebels vow to repulse Sudanese government attack

9/23/2005 7:07pm

By Amil Khan

KHARTOUM, Sept 24 (Reuters) - A rebel group in Sudan's western Darfur region said on Saturday government forces were preparing to try to recapture a town but would be repulsed.

The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) said on Tuesday it had captured the town of Sheiria, but military officials have vowed government forces would drive the rebels out.

"We have heard government forces are coming in our direction but we are ready for them," SLM spokesman Mahjoub Hussein told Reuters. "The SLM is on standby to repulse anything from the Sudanese government's army."

Sheiria is about 70 km (45 miles) northeast of Nyala, capital of South Darfur state.

Government forces from Nyala and El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, were heading towards Sheiria, said Hussein.

The African Union has said renewed fighting in the area could mar the latest round of Darfur peace talks which resumed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sept. 15.

The Darfur conflict began in early 2003 when the SLM and another rebel group launched a revolt, saying there had been marginalisation of people in the region and official neglect.

The groups have accused the government of arming nomadic militia groups which looted and burned villages belonging to farming communities.

Tens of thousands have been killed since the rebellion began and around two million have fled from their homes.

Sudan recently announced a coalition government with former rebels in the south.
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