November 26, 2009 / 1:07 PM / 10 years ago

Darfur rebels say army attacks, 10 fighters killed

* Ten killed in Darfur clashes, rebels say

* Fighting as peace talks begin

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region on Thursday accused government troops of launching two attacks in a development likely to hinder peace talks which began this month. Rebel commander Suleiman Marjan of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said government forces attacked civilians in Jabel Eissa and al-Harra in North Darfur on Wednesday.

"They drove out the civilians, beating them, looting and arrested 11 young men," Marjan said.

The SLA had no base in the villages, which was home to about 6,000 people, he said.

In an earlier army attack on Nov. 18 on a nearby SLA base, two rebels and eight government soldiers were killed, he said.

"We repulsed them and they left 20 injured behind and about 50 prisoners who we later released," Marjan said.

Officials from the government army were not available to comment. The joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) was also unable to confirm the attacks.

The United Nations estimates about 300,000 people have been killed since mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms against Khartoum more than six years ago. The government puts the toll at about 10,000.

The International Criminal Court has demanded President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s arrest for war crimes linked to the counter-insurgency campaign .

The peace process mediated by the United Nations and African Union began earlier this month in Qatar with civil society groups taking part. The SLA has refused to attend until security returns to Darfur.

The fighting has driven more than 2 million people from their homes and destabilised the remote region bordering Chad and the Central African Republic, who are both fighting uprisings fuelled by the Darfur unrest.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

((Khartoum newsroom; +249 912 167 378;

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