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Rebels Say Sudanese Forces Kill 27 at Darfur Camp

The United Nations is sending a team to investigate reports of clashes with Sudanese security forces in a displaced persons camp in the country's western Darfur region. As Derek Kilner reports from Nairobi, rebel groups have accused the government of killing civilians living in the camp.

Darfur rebel groups and residents of Kalma Camp, in southern Darfur, say Sudanese security forces entered the camp early Monday and engaged in clashes with camp residents.

A leader of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army rebels said that 27 people had been killed in the fighting. Other estimates from rebels and residents of the number dead range from eight to as many as 50.

Spokesman Noureddine Mezni, of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur known as UNAMID, told VOA that a team was being dispatched to investigate the reports of fighting.

"We have received a report from UNAMID representatives there, that the police of the government said that they had a search warrant from the court, authorizing them to enter Kalma camp to search for arms and possible wanted persons," said Mezni. "They entered on their own and it seems that there are clashes going on. And now we are sending an investigation team to make the assessment of the situation."

Kalma Camp, one of the largest in Darfur, is home to about 90,000 people who have been displaced by fighting in the region since 2003. It has also been a frequent scene of violence.

The government says rebels hide out in the camp, and expressed a willingness to remove its residents. Aid workers and rebels have accused the government of attempting to remove residents from the camp on previous occasions.

Meanwhile, the new lead mediator for the U.N.-African Union mission, Djibril Bassole, is expected in the capital Khartoum. The mission has struggled to respond to insecurity in the region. Only about 11,000 of the planned 26,000 troops have been deployed, and the mission is lacking contributions of equipment, including helicopters.

According to most international estimates, more than 2.5 million people have been displaced, and more than 200,000 killed in the conflict in Darfur since 2003. The Sudanese government says no more than 10,000 people have died.