U.N. says Sudan forces blocked access to site of Darfur attack
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese government forces have blocked international peacekeepers accessing the site of an alleged attack that killed up to 10 civilians in the western Darfur region, the peacekeepers said.
Tribal fighting, banditry and clashes between insurgents and government forces have ravaged Darfur since rebels took up arms against the central government in 2003.
The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said a team of peacekeepers went to investigate on Saturday after receiving reports of an attack on civilians in Sigili village, some 40 km (25 miles) southeast of North Darfur's state capital El Fasher.
"The convoy was prevented by the government of Sudan's military at Zam Zam checkpoint from reaching the destination," UNAMID said in a statement late on Saturday.
Sudan's military spokesman was not immediately available to comment.
Sudan's state news agency SUNA quoted local officials as saying 10 people died in the incident, which came "in a series of tribal disputes the area has seen in recent months". The government had set up a committee to investigate, it said.
Several hundred mourners marched in a funeral procession through El Fasher on Saturday, bringing 10 bodies to the UNAMID headquarters, the peacekeepers said in the statement.
The United Nations and other observers have estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have died in the Darfur conflict. Khartoum has put the death toll at around 10,000.
The International Criminal Court has indicted Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other officials for war crimes in Darfur, which they deny.
(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Louise Ireland)