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Sudanese Army Says Darfur Rebels Killed 12

Rebels from the Sudanese region of Darfur have carried out an attack outside the region on a town about 400 kilometers from Khartoum. Government aircraft have been sent to Hamrat al-Sheikh, where fighting is continuing, the army says. A local official said 12 people had died.

The Sudanese army said the town of Hamrat al-Sheikh in North Kordofan province was attacked Monday by forces linked to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The rebels attacked the town with 50 trucks armed with heavy weapons, some of which were posted outside Hamrat al-Sheikh to seal it off, according to police reports. They said they outnumbered the security forces to seize the town.

The attack came despite a truce between the Khartoum government and Darfur rebels since April 2004. But the JEM rejects a peace deal signed in the Nigerian capital Abuja in May by Khartoum and the main Darfur rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement.

Head of the United Nations mission in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has warned the fragile peace deal may collapse all together if further concessions are not granted to rebel groups.

But Foreign Minister Lam Akol speaking from Khartoum on Monday said the deal cannot be changed.

The United States has leveled accusations of ethnic cleansing against the government in Khartoum citing evidence that they are backing Arab Janjaweed militias who target black African ethnic groups.

Khartoum continues to deny allegations of genocide and cites the rebels as the cause of unrest in region.

Over 200,000 people have been killed and two million people displaced in the three years of civil war.