A rebel movement operating in eastern Sudan claims that the Sudanese government is bombing areas in Red Sea state, killing and injuring civilians in the process. A government official says he is not aware of any bombing on the eastern front.

The secretary of legal affairs for the Eastern Front rebel group, Salah Barqueen, tells VOA, the Sudanese government is dropping bombs from aircraft on the Barka Valley, near the towns of Tokar and Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

"Most of the sheep, cows, goats were killed, and the houses were destroyed, and many persons were injured. Actually, until now, I haven't any figures about those who were killed or those who were injured. I have news from Port Sudan. The hospital of Port Sudan is closed, and the hospital of Tokar is also closed because they [the government] don't want the people to see the number of the victims," said Mr. Barqueen.

Mr. Barqueen says he believes the alleged bombing is in retaliation for an attack on government garrisons near Port Sudan by the Eastern Front at the beginning of this week.

According to the Eastern Front, at least 17 government troops were captured in that battle, and are still being held.

"Always, they [the government] do like this,? he added.  ?When they fail to face us face-to-face, they let the other way of punishing the civilians and punishing the people of our region by bombing from the air, and sending missiles and heavy gun machines."

Mr. Barqueen says the bombing began on Thursday and is continuing Friday.

The Secretary General of Sudan's External Information Council, Khider al-Rasheed, tells VOA he has not heard anything about bombardment in the east.

"I cannot say that we are bombing, because the government is not bombing anywhere in the Sudan. But I have no information about this allegation, either. So, I don't think we have a comment on this except that we are not aware of this bombardment at all in the eastern front," said Mr. Rasheed.

Mr. Rasheed says the Sudanese government's policy is to make peace, and has been successful in that area.

"Our policy is crystal clear, that we are seeking peaceful settlements. Even in the east, we have had some kind of an agreement or settlement with one of the factions in the east. We are not attacking our own people, you know," he added.

The Eastern Front rebel movement, based in neighboring Eritrea, says it is waging war to draw attention to what it believes is Khartoum's long-standing policy of denying the people in the area a fair share of the country's wealth, resources, and political power.