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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Bloody battle in northern Darfur
By Jonah Fisher
BBC News, Sudan

Minni Minnawi centre surrounded by his fighters
Minni Minnawi has a strong military background
Sudan's Darfur region has seen its bloodiest few days since the signing of a peace agreement over two months ago.

More than 80 people have been killed as rebels fight each other for territory, according to sources within the African Union peacekeeping mission.

In early May, under pressure from the international community, the Sudanese government signed an agreement with one of the region's rebel movements.

But the deal has not been implemented and security has worsened.

Darfur's Sudan Liberation Army says it took up arms three years ago to fight for greater power and wealth for their people.

Offensive

Now the rebels have split and the SLA are fighting amongst themselves with a brutality that has driven thousands more people from their homes.

The town of Korma in North Darfur has changed hands three times since March.

In the latest clash, which began a week ago, forces from the SLA faction led by Minni Minnawi, conducted an offensive to empty villages around the town.

Those who escaped allege systematic rape and executions - violence which has until now been associated with pro-government forces.

The African Union has been told that 32 people died in the initial operation and that over 50 were killed as Mr Minnawi's faction consolidated its hold on the town.

The peacekeepers have so far been denied access to Korma to see for themselves.

Two months ago, in their haste to get a deal, the international community pushed through a peace agreement involving just one of Darfur's rebel factions - that of Mr Minnawi.

The size of that mistake is now becoming clear.

The conflict's victims who still live in overcrowded camps have rejected the deal.

Western donors now find themselves promoting the agreement alongside the Sudanese government and Mr Minnawi's SLA - a rebel force that seems more determined to settle scores than implement the deal.


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