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78 killed in latest North Darfur rebel attack: official

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March 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The member of North Darfur state governor’s consultative office, Ibrahim Mohamed Mahmoud, said that 78 army personnel were killed during the recent attack on Mellit this week.

The official further said that 4 officers were killed among the military , pointing that 10 civilians were also killed during the attack.

On Thursday, the Sudan Liberation Movement – Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) said it captured the strategic town of Mellit in North Darfur state, which is at 80km north to the state capital Al-Fasher.

The military spokesperson of the SLM-MM, Adam Saleh Abakar, said the attack was carried out by a joint force composed of their fighters and those of a splinter faction of the Liberation and Justice Movement led by Ali Karbino. (LJM-Karbino).

Mahmoud told Ashorooq TV that government forces defeated the attackers killing 9 and destroying 3 vehicles.

He added that all concerned bodies knew in advance that rebels could penetrate the town, attributing the incident to failure of those bodies to make the necessary arrangements to protect the town.

He pointed that regular forces in western and southern areas of the state including the border guards and the police central reserves forces fought desperately to defend the town; stressing humanitarian situation has not been assessed so far.

Mahmoud further said several houses were destroyed and pointed that the commercial market didn’t fully resume its activity. He however emphasised that conditions in the town are stable.

The Sudan Armed Forces issued a statement on Friday night about the attack on Mellit saying the army repelled the assailants rebel and prevented them from entering the town, adding they inflicted heavy losses in lives and equipment among them without providing any figures about the death toll from the two sides.

The governor of North Darfur state, Youssef Osman Kibir, for his part, said the Sudanese army managed to control Millet following the attack by SLM/MM and other rebel groups on Thursday evening.

He said in a briefing on Friday that Sudanese army inflicted heavy losses on the rebels and still chasing their remnants, pointing the road which links between El-Fashir and Mellit is now safe and passable.

Kibir stressed that attackers have not had sufficient time to loot residents’ properties because the army swiftly raided them.

The SLM-MM launched a series of attacks in South and North Darfur states since last February.

Earlier this month, the head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Tijani El-Sissi warned against the rapidly deteriorating security situation in North and South Darfur states and criticized government for failing to restore security in the region, which has witnessed rebellion since 2003.

Sissi further said that the insecurity in North and South Darfur hampers the implementation of development projects. "What happens there will not be a catalyst to start in any reconstruction effort in those areas," he added.

(ST)

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