- A fierce fighting on Sunday between the Sudanese army and rebel forces has left over 60 combatants dead, a military spokesman has confirmed. Scores of rebel fighter from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) raided the army base in Umm Baru town killing 20 soldiers, while 43 JEM members also reportedly lost their lives.
Sudanese army spokesman Osman al-Agbash said JEM rebels have been killed as the army fought off an attack on a military base in the North Darfur region.
The attack on the base at Umm Baru about 100km from the frontier with Chad, comes as a fresh round of peace talks between Sudan and JEM is due to begin on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar.
"JEM troops, along with 40 artillery tanks from the Chadian forces, and about 80 JEM vehicles, attacked this position," Mr al-Agbash accused.
The announcement of fatalities surfaces just a day after UN peacekeepers reported that the town had fallen under the control of JEM after heavy fighting, but later said the army was still in control of the town.
The rebels spokesman, Suleiman Sandal, also confirmed the killings, saying a number of his combatants lost their lives.
Last week, JEM seized Sudan's army base at Kornoi, about 50km from Chad's border.
Tensions along the border between Chad and Sudan have been mounting for several weeks as each state accuses the other of supporting rebel groups seeking to topple their respective governments.
Ndjamena has accused Khartoum of backing a recent offensive by Chadian rebels, while Sudan has said that Chad backs the JEM rebels.
Meanwhile, the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur Monday condemned the fighting in Umm Baru, urging all the warring parties to the Darfur conflict to seek a peaceful resolution.
UNAMID said about 350 civilians and 100 unarmed Sudanese soldiers and members of the pro-government faction Sudan Liberation Army have fled their homes seeking refuge near the UNAMID camp.
The United Nations estimates that the six year rebellion in Darfur has killed more than 300,000 people with more than 2.7 million more having been displaced.
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