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Sudan says 17 JEM rebels killed during clashes in Darfur

February 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Some 17 rebels and 11 soldiers were killed in clashes between the Sudanese army and Justice and Equality Movement at Donkey Shatta location in the south western of Darfur on Thursday, the Sudanese army said.

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Sudanese rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement stand guard near the Chadian border July 8, 2007.

The clashes occurred two days after the signing by the two parties in Doha of a goodwill agreement where they committed themselves create a conducive environment for peace talks and pledged to sign a cessation of hostilities in the next weeks.

Mohamed Osman Al-Aghbash the spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces told the Sudanese government sponsored SMC that an officer from the Chadian Republican Guard had been killed among the rebels. He added that the army destroyed 4 vehicles and still pursuing the rebels.

The Sudanese army official said since seizure of Muhageriya in South Darfur by JEM fighters and their surrounding by the army, "Chad tried to send military reinforcements and supplies through eastern area of Jebel Marrah." But the rebel force had to move back due to the continued hunting down by the Sudanese troops" he added.

Yesterday the army dismissed JEM rebels statements about an attack by the Sudanese government troops in North Darfur. It further said that only troops loyal to Minni Minnawi, had been involved in the skirmishes.

The Sudanese army spokesperson underlined today this rebel force had clashed with the troops of the former rebel leader Miinnawi in Serfaya, northern Darfur, on Wednesday. JEM confirmed the fighting and said capturing 27 vehicles from the fighters of the signatory of Abuja peace agreement in May 2006.

Al-Aghbash vehemently attacked the Chadian government and accused the neighboring country of continuing to provide military support to the Sudanese rebels despite its "public calls for peace and normalizations"

"Chad’s behavior negatively affects the region and its security" he added.

The two countries restored bilateral relations last November and pledged to work together for peace in Darfur but they resumed trading accusations as it is the case since three years accusing each other of providing support to their respective rebel groups.

(ST)