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Peacekeepers: Darfur Clashes Killed Nearly 600 in May


International peacekeepers say fighting in Sudan's Darfur region killed nearly 600 people during May, the largest monthly death toll in more than two years.

Officials with the U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur say the death toll was the highest recorded since peacekeepers were deployed in January 2008.

The casualty figures released Monday included deaths both from tribal violence and from clashes between Darfur rebel groups and the Sudanese government.

New fighting between the government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement erupted in May after the JEM walked out of peace talks in Qatar.

A new round of talks is scheduled for this week, but the JEM continues to boycott the negotiations.

On Saturday, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir said the current talks will be the last with any armed group.

The U.N.-AU figures do not include deaths from tribal clashes in South Darfur late last week. On Sunday, a local tribal leader said fighting between the Rizeigat and Misseriya tribes killed 41 people.

Darfur has experienced seven years of war and instability since rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the government of neglecting the western region.

The United Nations says the fighting and related violence has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced about 2.7 million others. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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