Sudan army, Darfur rebels clash week after ceasefire

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By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Sudan's army said its forces killed 30 rebel fighters on Thursday while repelling an insurgent attack a week after the country's president declared a ceasefire in the region.

Leaders from the rebel Sudan Liberation Army confirmed launching a ground assault on a military base in North Darfur, and said the government launched an air attack on nearby villages in response.

Rebel commander Suleiman Marajan told Reuters five of his fighters had died as heavily armed government troops hit back at his men at the base near the settlement of Hilif.

The news of the fresh fighting came a day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had received "troubling reports" of a number of bombing raids and attacks in the region since the Sudanese government declared a ceasefire.

Sudan's army spokesman Brigadier Uthman al-Agbash put out a statement saying Thursday's fighting did not breach the ceasefire, declared by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, as the soldiers were acting in self defence.

The army has denied bombing rebel positions over the past week, but said it had fought off a number of armed bandit attacks on humanitarian convoys.

More than five years of fighting in the remote western region has killed 200,000 and driven 2.5 million from their homes say international experts.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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