Sudan

Darfur rebels united in fight against Khartoum

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Three rebel factions have formed an alliance with the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), saying the death of JEM's leader will not deter them from their mission to overthrow Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

On the weekend, JEM announced the death of Khalil Ibrahim, 54, saying he was killed during an air strike on his camp.

The Sudanese army, however, said Ibrahim was wounded on Thursday evening in a clash with government forces in Umm-Gozain, an area of North Kordofan state near North Darfur, and died on Saturday evening.

In the wake of Ibrahim's death, the JEM, the SPLM-North and factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) have joined together in resistance to the government of Sudan. "We are very strong and we think that our alliance will not die," said Kadia Shimallia of the SPLM-N in Blue Nile State. He vowed they will work together, "to keep on this march towards Khartoum."

Ibrahim al-Hillu, of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction headed by Abdelwahid Nur, said his group will "stand by our brothers in the Justice and Equality Movement" and abide by all agreements signed with them.

"We are now joined together to fight to the last bullet to remove this government," said Hussain Minnawi, a leader of the SLA faction led by Minni Minnawi. "We will escalate the fighting later on."

The rebels say they are in a struggle for "democracy and civil rights" against an Arab-dominated regime unrepresentative of the country's political, ethnic and religious diversity.