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Darfur Rebel Group Threatens to Boycott Peace Talks and Resume Fighting

A Darfur rebel group says it will boycott upcoming peace talks in Libya if Sudanese government forces do not end an alleged offensive. The Sudan Liberation Army-Unity faction also threatened Tuesday to resume fighting.

A similar warning came from the Sudanese Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minnawi, which was the only rebel group to participate in the 2006 peace talks.

Minnawi's faction announced Tuesday that it was attacked Monday in the town of Muhajeria by the Sudanese army and allied militias. Officers of the Darfur rebel group said at least 40 civilians had been killed, and that half of the town had been destroyed.

The Sudanese army denied any involvement in attacks on the town and claimed fighting was taking place there between local tribes.

But the commander of the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, General Martin Luther Agwai has confirmed that Sudanese aircraft bombed the town.

In another development, the rights group Amnesty International says the Sudanese army is planning to attack rebel-controlled parts of North Darfur. The London-based group said Tuesday it has received reports of Sudanese troops gathering in at least six towns in the area, including Tine, Kornoy, Um Baru, and Kutum.

The SLA's humanitarian coordinator, Suleiman Jammous, told VOA Tuesday that the current fighting jeopardizes peace talks between rebels and the government set to begin later this month in Libya.

On Monday, the British government warned Darfur rebel groups they could be excluded from the Darfur peace process if they boycott the Libya talks. But Jammous says Darfur must have some stability before the rebels sit down with the government.

Darfur rebel groups launched their fight against the government in Khartoum in 2003. Since then, fighting between the rebels, government, and militia groups has killed an estimated 200,000 people, and displaced more than two million others.

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