Sudan aircraft bomb settlement near Chad - rebels

Tue Jun 2, 2009 12:18pm EDT

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KHARTOUM, June 2 (Reuters) - Sudanese aircraft bombed a town in northwest Darfur on Monday, killing two people and destroying crucial infrastructure, a spokesman for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said on Tuesday.

"There has been continuous bombardment of warplanes from the Sudan government on Furawiya town. They have specifically targeted water wells," JEM's Suleiman Sandal told Reuters by satellite phone. "Two people have been killed and 15 injured."

A spokesman from Sudan's army was not immediately able to comment on the JEM claims.

Furawiya settlement is around 240 km (150 miles) north of West Darfur's state capital Geneina and 70 km (43 miles) from Sudan's border with Chad.

Intense fighting in the Furawiya area in recent weeks has cast a shadow over stalled peace negotiations between the rebels and government in the Qatari capital Doha.

JEM withdrew from two nearby settlements, Kornoi and Umm Baru, last week after heavy bombing by government planes and helicopters. Sudan's army has said 64 people were killed in fighting in Umm Baru.

Sandal said JEM mobile units were near Furawiya but had not been damaged by the air attacks. He added that Furawiya's market place had been destroyed by "Janjaweed", a term used to describe Arab militiamen supported by Khartoum, and that 70 sheep had been killed in the bombing.

Darfur's war flared in 2003 when mostly African rebels took up arms against Khartoum, accusing it of neglect. Khartoum responded with a counterinsurgency offensive using regular troops and armed Arab militias.

The United Nations has said that as many as 300,000 people may have died in the fighting but Sudan's government puts the death toll at 10,000.

Khartoum blames neighbouring Chad for some of the violence, saying it supports JEM. Chad in turn says Sudan supported the Chadian rebels who attacked Chad's capital in February 2008.

Libya-sponsored talks between Sudan and Chad have so far failed to ease tensions between the oil-producing neighbours. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler and Khalid Abdel Aziz; editing by Alastair Sharp and Tim Pearce)

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