Sudanese army, rebels report new fighting in South Darfur
CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudanese military forces and rebels reported intensified fighting around a key city in Darfur on Wednesday and both sides said they would launch further attacks.
Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Mohammed Hussein said the army was closing in on a rebel-controlled town in South Darfur state.
A spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army faction loyal to veteran fighter Minni Minnawi said rebels killed 100 soldiers in the past four days in several towns near Nyala, capital of South Darfur state. He said rebels held territory east of Nyala.
Hussein did not mention casualties in a report by state news agency SUNA, but said the army was preparing new attacks on rebels in the town of Muhajiriya, 80 km (50 miles) from Nyala, and promised "happy news" in the coming days.
Events in Darfur are hard to verify independently because of restrictions on media access.
War broke out in the western region of Darfur over a decade ago and fighting has persisted despite two peace accords and the presence of the world's largest peacekeeping mission.
The main insurgent groups accuse the government of marginalizing the region's ethnic minorities. They have refused to join a Qatar-backed peace process that led to a deal between Khartoum and an alliance of smaller rebel factions in 2011.
While violence is down from its peak in 2003-2004, recent fighting has forced more than 130,000 people to flee their homes since the start of the year, according to the United Nations.
(Reporting By Khaled Abdelaziz; writing By Maggie Fick; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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