Sudan

Sudan: Fresh clashes in Darfur blamed on government

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NAIROBI, 22 May 2007 (IRIN) - A Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction has blamed Sudanese government forces for fresh attacks on its positions in North Darfur, saying aerial bombardment had been employed against its fighters.

Sudanese government forces clashed with rebels over the weekend in the Rockero area of North Darfur state, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported, adding that it was unable to estimate the number of casualties following the violence.

A spokesman for the faction, Jar Al Nabi Abdal Karim, said government forces had resumed attacks in the area, citing other incidents in Malam al Hosh and in the Jabal Moon region. At least five people died, he added.

Government officials denied the reports, according to local reports in the Sudanese media on 22 May, saying only aerial reconnaissance had been carried out in the area.

UNMIS also reported clashes in Abu Surug in South Darfur state, adding that the local defence force had fought about 120 armed men, believed to be from an Arab militia, on Saturday.

The reports of attacks come amid reports of more internally displaced persons (IDPs) arriving at Al Salam camp in South Darfur in the past few days, driven by the recent attacks on their villages by armed militiamen.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, has said formal political negotiations to resolve the Darfur conflict could begin soon. Many of the warring parties, he said, had indicated their readiness to sit down to talk.

"We have the beginning now of a credible political process," Eliasson told reporters on Friday. "We are now at the stage where we will practically prepare for the negotiations."

Last week, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said Sudanese security forces should be investigated for their involvement in attacks on villages in South Darfur. More than 100 people have been killed in such attacks on villages near Nyala since January.

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