Ansar Dine militiamen traveling in Kidal, northeastern Mali, June 16, 2012.
Ansar Dine militiamen traveling in Kidal, northeastern Mali, June 16, 2012.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - Khartoum has denied reports that fighters from the extremist Islamist group Ansar Dine have moved into Darfur after being pushed out of northern Mali by French and Malian forces.

The denial comes after rebel groups in Darfur, which have been fighting Khartoum for decades, said they had seen Ansar Dine fighters in the region, identifying them by their clothes and "mostly French" accents.

Khartoum confirmed that there are armed groups from outside Sudan in Darfur but insisted they were not from Ansar Dine, the extremist group, made up mainly of Tuaregs, that imposed sharia law in parts of northern Mali and is said to be linked to Al Qaeda.

"What the government says is these armed rebels who entered South Darfur from the Central African Republic are based in South Sudan, and Sudanese security knows who they are and are following them," reporter Isma'il Kushkush said in a phone interview from Khartoum.

To hear the full interview between Kushkush and South Sudan in Focus editor Carol van Dam, click the audio link below.