, KHARTOUM, Feb 24 – Fresh fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region has killed 12 government soldiers, according to a rebel statement received on Friday, but an official said 10 civilians were the victims.
The Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi said it attacked a government position at Alawna, south of the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher, on Wednesday.
A dozen soldiers were killed and various types of weapons were seized by the rebels, it said.
The official SUNA news agency made no mention of military or rebel casualties but said the Minawi faction killed six civilians and wounded four in an attack on the Alawna area.
SUNA’s report cited Abdul-Illah Banaga, the head of Dar El Salam district.
The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), whose mandate is to protect civilians, told AFP it was trying to send a patrol to the area to check what happened.
In a report late last year, the Small Arms Survey, an independent Swiss-based research project, said Minawi signed a 2006 peace agreement with the government but rebelled again at the end of 2010.
The faction remains “seriously divided” and its military command very loose, the report said.
In 2003, the Sudan Liberation Army and other rebels drawn from Darfur’s non-Arab tribes rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. In response, the regime unleashed state-backed Janjaweed militia in a conflict that shocked the world and led to allegations of genocide.
Since then, much of the violence in the region has degenerated into banditry.
The United Nations estimates that at least 300,000 people have died as a result of the Darfur conflict, while almost two million people remain displaced.
The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 10,000.
Last year the government signed a peace deal in Doha with an alliance of Darfur rebel splinter factions, but the Sudan Liberation Army factions and another key rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, refused to sign.
Instead, they and rebels fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states formed the Sudanese Revolutionary Front to topple the regime they regard as unrepresentative of the country’s political, ethnic and religious diversity.
President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.