Sudanese protesters stone government convoy after rebel attack

KHARTOUM Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:36am EDT

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Residents of a provincial Sudanese city set government offices on fire and threw rocks at local officials on Sunday, accusing them of failing to protect them from a rebel attack the day before, witnesses said.

Insurgents from Sudan's Darfur region stormed Um Rawaba in North Kordofan state on Saturday, witnesses said. State media said late in the evening authorities had regained control of the city, located some 500 km (300 miles) from Khartoum.

On Sunday, 300 people gathered in the city center to protest at a visit by North Kordofan Governor Mutassim Mirghani Zaki Uddi to inspect damage from the fighting in the state's second-largest city.

An angry crowd set several government buildings on fire and threw stones at the cars of the governor and his entourage, three witnesses told Reuters.

"We don't want you here - where were you yesterday?" the crowd chanted, according to witnesses. Uddi's motorcade left without any reports of injury or serious damage. There was no immediate police comment.

The attack marked a major thrust by a rebel alliance that is seeking to topple President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Fighting had hitherto been limited mainly to Darfur and South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which border South Sudan.

Local newspapers showed what they said were pictures taken during the rebel attack. Several burning buildings could be seen as well as the body of a person on the ground, according to the daily al-Intibaha.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the biggest Darfur rebel groups, denied it had looted or destroyed any property in Um Rawaba.

The group was one of two main rebel forces that took up arms against the government in 2003, demanding better representation for Darfur and accusing Khartoum of neglecting its development.

In 2011, JEM teamed up with two other Darfuri groups and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) which took up arms in South Kordofan and Blue Nile around the time of South Sudan's secession, breaking up Africa's largest country.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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