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Sudan denies harbouring Malian militants

February 20, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) denied the presence of Malian jihadist groups in Darfur after statements by rebel groups saying they had been seen near Kutum in North Darfur state.

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Militiamen riding two vehicles near Kutum in North Darfur state. JEM says they are accompanying some Malian jihadists (Photo released by JEM spokesperson in Feb 2013)

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said this week that the Malian rebels were working with a government - militia group called Abu Teira and released pictures displaying two vehicles allegedly transporting militiamen and Malian Tuareqs.

In statement released by a pro-government website on Wednesday, SAF spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khaled said the security services are closely monitoring the borders, describing the rebel statements as "unfounded".

He further said that JEM’s claims were intend to convince the international community that Khartoum is harbouring and supporting terrorist and extremist elements.

The French and Malian armies launched an attack on the Malian Tuareq’s and their allied foreign jihadis who were controlling the northern part of the western African nation last month.

Paris on Tuesday confirmed the death of a second French soldier in the clashes with the jihadist groups near the border with Algeria in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range.

French sources denied that Paris has any concrete evidence about the arrival of any armed militants from Mali to Darfur.

Darfur rebel groups say that the Malian jihadists of Ansar Al-Islam entered into Sudan’s western region from Libya.

However, the different versions diverge over the role of the Libyan authorities. Some say they were in contact with the Libyan Islamists, but others insist that the government transported them by airplanes to western Sudan.