Sudan

Former Sudan rebels say senior commander killed

KHARTOUM, March 26 (Reuters) - Former Sudanese rebels said on Monday one if their senior commanders has been killed in southern Darfur and warned the ambush could threaten a peace agreement signed last year.

A spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), the only one of three Darfur rebel negotiating factions to sign a May 2006 peace deal with the government, said Abdel Shafee Jumma Arabi and three escorts were killed on Saturday near Nyala, capital of South Darfur.

"We are not sure who killed him. But he died in an area controlled by Janjaweed (militias)," said SLM spokesman al-Tayyib Khamis.

"We blame the government. These types of attacks happened in that area before. This only endangers the peace."

The incident took place on the same day eight members of the SLM and two Sudanese police officers were killed in a clash.

The fighting broke out when police surrounded the headquarters of the SLM in the city of Omdurman, on the west bank of the Nile opposite Sudan's capital Khartoum, the state-run Sudanese Media Centre said.

It said the SLM had refused to hand over to authorities members involved in a traffic accident two days earlier.

Experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in Darfur to miserable camps in four years of rape, killing and pillage. Washington calls the violence genocide, a term Khartoum rejects.

Rebels and residents say the Janjaweed are backed by the government and blame them for widespread abuses in Darfur. The government calls them outlaws and says it has no links to the militias.

After last year's peace deal, SLM leader Minni Arcua Minnawi became a senior assistant to the president with special responsibilities for Darfur.

But he has complained the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) lacks political will to implement the peace accord.

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