Rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur region have launched an attack on government forces, killing several people, state news agency SUNA said.
Darfur has been plagued by violence since mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms in 2003, complaining the central government in Khartoum had neglected the remote western territory.
While violence is down from its peak in 2003 and 2004, law and order have collapsed in parts of the vast territory and banditry, tribal fighting and clashes between rebels and government forces have continued.
Rebels attacked the government-controlled area of Abu Dalig in North Darfur on Wednesday, SUNA said late on Friday, citing a local official.
It said several “mujahideen”, a synonym for fighters from government-allied militias or tribes, were killed or wounded during the attack, adding that rebels had tried stealing property of citizens. It gave no details of what had happened.
The Sudanese Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebels in Darfur and two border states, said it had attacked a government convoy in Abu Dalig near al-Fasher, capital of North Darfur.
“The government forces suffered huge losses,” it said in a statement, adding that the rebels had seized five military vehicles, heavy weapons and ammunition.
The rebels’ alliance, which also includes the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North fighting in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, plans to topple Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
The International Criminal Court has indicted Bashir and issued an arrest warrant for Defence Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein to face charges of masterminding war crimes in Darfur, charges they deny.
The United Nations has estimated that around 300,000 people may have died in Darfur, where Sudanese troops and Arab militias have sought to crush the rebellion. The government has put the toll around 10,000 and dismissed the charges as political.
The government signed a Qatar-brokered peace deal with small Darfur rebel groups a year ago but the main rebel groups have refused to join. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Alison Williams)