Sudan oil state rebels say repulsed government advance

KHARTOUM Fri Nov 2, 2012 4:38pm EDT

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Rebels in Sudan's main oil state said on Friday they had killed scores of government troops in one of the largest clashes reported in the South Kordofan region in recent months.

Sudan's armed forces were not available to comment on the report by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). Access to South Kordofan, which borders newly independent South Sudan, is restricted and it was not possible to verify the report independently.

"The SPLM-N were able to kill 70 of the enemy forces," the rebels said in a statement, adding that seven insurgents died.

The rebels said they had driven back government troops and allied militias who had attempted to occupy Daldako, a settlement northeast of South Kordofan's state capital Kadugli.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, another border state, since the fighting broke out between government forces and the (SPLM-N) last year.

Both sides regularly issue conflicting claims.

The rebels have shelled Kadugli multiple times in the past month, hitting an area that had been mostly isolated from the fighting.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of backing the rebels, a claim analysts say is credible despite Juba's repeated denials.

The SPLM-N troops fought alongside the former guerillas now running South Sudan during a decades-long civil war but were left in Sudan when the two sides split apart last year under a 2005 peace deal.

On Wednesday, a U.S. official said the United States had asked the SPLM-N to stop recruiting child soldiers from refugee camps in South Sudan.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz and Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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