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Tensions Rise Between Sudan, Peacekeepers


Sudan's government is in a custody dispute with the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Darfur after violence killed at least six people last week at an internally displaced camp in southern Darfur.

The government is demanding the peacekeeping mission hand over six camp leaders who sought refuge with the UNAMID during the violence.

The government says the six are criminals who instigated the violence. But UNAMID says it cannot hand them over unless the government shows proof of criminal charges and can assure a fair trial.

Meanwhile, aid groups have been denied access to the camp since the deadly clashes. UNAMID said in a statement sporadic gunfire has continued and heavy rainfall also threatens the safety of the camp residents.

Thousands fled to nearby villages during the violence, and a government aid official told Reuters aid groups had access to those villages.

The camp is a stronghold of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, which is not participating in peace talks with the government.

Reports indicate the violence erupted between supporters of rebel factions participating in the peace process and those of the SLA.

Peacekeepers and foreign aid workers have faced increased hostility in Darfur since last year, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes.

The United Nations says the seven-year conflict in Darfur has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million. Sudan's government says around 10,000 people have died.

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

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