Sudan says ready to repel any attack on territory

KHARTOUM, May 10 (Reuters) - Sudan said on Sunday it was ready to repel any attack on its territory, a day after rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement, which Khartoum accuses Chad of supporting, were involved in a clash in Darfur.

Chad said it had halted an attempted rebel advance on its capital last week following fierce fighting in the east. N'Djamena has accused Sudan of igniting the clashes by sending armed groups over the border.

Khartoum denies these charges and has in turn, accused Chad of supporting JEM rebels, which attacked the Sudanese capital on May 11, 2008. Sudan has accused Chadian President Idriss Deby of involvement in that attack.

"National Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein has affirmed the readiness of the armed forces to repel any aggression on Sudanese lands, pointing to the movements of JEM on the north western border with support from the Chadian government," the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) reported.

Hussein made those statements in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, SUNA said.

On Saturday JEM rebels clashed in North Darfur with forces loyal to former rebel Minni Arcua Minnawi, the only Darfur rebel to sign a peace deal with the government in 2006.

UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni said another brief battle took place on Sunday.

Minnawi leads a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army and became a presidential assistant after the 2006 peace agreement.

The fighting in Chad, in which N'Djamena said 225 rebels and 22 government soldiers were killed, threatens a peace deal Chad and Sudan signed in Doha only last week in which they agreed to normalise relations and reject support for rebels hostile to either of them.

The two countries resumed fragile diplomatic relations last November after cutting them in May. (Writing by Yara Bayoumy; editing by Philippa Fletcher)