Negotiators from the Sudanese government and two Darfur rebel groups are expected in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, for a new round of peace talks to begin on Thursday.

The African Union will mediate the talks, aimed at ending a two-and-a-half-year conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Several previous rounds have failed. The last talks in June stalled over rebel demands that Chad not be allowed to help mediate the negotiations.

A ceasefire agreement has also been repeatedly violated.

Last week, the United Nations said there have been many reports in Darfur of banditry, looting, alleged attacks on villages and continued fighting.

The conflict pits rebels of African descent against pro-government Arab militiamen. An estimated 180,000 people have been killed and 2 million others have been displaced.

Some information in this story provided by AFP.