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Violence Continues in Darfur


The African Union mission in Sudan has reported a flare-up in violence in southern Darfur. The AU says the former rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) has begun attacking civilians in Gereida, following clashes between the SLM and another rebel group.

The AU says at least 11 people have died during the fighting, which began late last week in Gereida town. It borders a camp, also called Gereida, which is home to 130,000 displaced Darfuris.

According to news reports, humanitarian workers have begun to flee Gereida, because of the violence.

AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni tells VOA AU commanders reported Tuesday the SLM has begun attacking civilians in Gereida.

"The AU military group site in Gereida reported today that SLM combatants had driven most of the males out of Gereida," he said. "The SLM combatants were busy looting the properties of the men and raping the wives. The situation is very, very tense and we are very concerned about this situation."

The Guardian newspaper reports the fighting began when the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked members of the Sudan Liberation Movement, which signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in May.

The rebel JEM refused to sign onto the peace deal. The signing of the agreement by some factions ignited violence among rebel groups.

The African Union has agreed to remain in volatile Darfur until December, following Sudan's refusal to grant entry to a United Nations mission.

Sudan said this week it will not grant an unlimited extension to AU troops in Darfur. This was in response to a suggestion by top U.N. envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, that the AU remain in Darfur, indefinitely.

Fadlalla Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tells VOA that, as of now, the AU mandate will terminate in December.

"From now until December, no problem," he said. "After that, it will be discussed. Sudan has no problem with the AU forces, but now what is available is an extension until December."

Arab League President Amr Moussa arrived in Khartoum, Monday, for talks with Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir. The Arab League has offered financial support to the cash-strapped AU.

The three-and-one-half year conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. It has displaced some two million people in remote Darfur and neighboring Chad.

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