CAIRO, July 24 (AFP) — The main Darfur rebel group claimed that Sudanese troops backed by helicopters and militiamen were raiding villages in South Darfur.
|A Sudanese Army helicopter that had been strafing the village of Labado in Sudan’s Darfur region (Brian Steidle).|
"On July 22, they heavily shelled the village of Al-Hamra and completely destroyed it," Mahjoub Hussein, spokesman of the Sudan Liberation Movement, told AFP.
"They also bombed three villages in South Darfur state on Sunday," he said, adding that fighting was continuing in the Shengun Tubay area, between El-Fasher and Nyala.
"Our movement is in a state of high alert and we will blame the government for any instability in the area," he warned, demanding immediate action from the United Nations to protect civilians.
Reports of the fighting in the remote South Darfur area could not immediately be verified independently.
The other major rebel movement, the Justice and Equality Movement, released a statement saying only that Sudanese air force had been overflying the area, in violation of international resolutions and agreements reached with Khartoum.
The purported flare-up came as the Sudanese government offered to bring forward by two weeks the scheduled August 24 date for their next round of talks with the rebels in Nigeria.
Violence broke out in Darfur in February 2003 when a rebel uprising led Khartoum to unleash Arab militias known as the Janjaweed in a scorched-earth campaign.
The conflict has claimed between 180,000 and 300,000 lives, displaced around 2.4 million people and sent more than 200,000 fleeing to neighbouring Chad, sparking one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.