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Page last updated at 21:13 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 22:13 UK

Sudan 'drives Darfur rebels back'

Burnt-out vehicles in Omdurman
There was heavy fighting in Khartoum's twin city, Omdurman

Sudan says rebels from Darfur have now retreated from Omdurman, the capital Khartoum's twin city across the Nile, which came under attack on Saturday.

A senior official said searches were under way in Khartoum for individuals thought to be insiders who may have helped the insurgents.

State television said earlier that at least 100 people had been arrested.

A rebel commander said the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) fighters was ready to strike again.

Sudan's government has also cut off diplomatic ties with Chad, blaming it for helping rebels launch the attack.

Both Chad and the Jem denied working together to launch the assault on Omdurman, which the rebels said they had taken control of.

'Practice' attack

Official media said government forces were hunting down rebel forces and seizing arms and explosives. A senior Jem commander and a 45-strong force had been killed, they added.

Sudan map

Sudan has offered a reward of $125,000 (64,000) for Jem leader Khalid Ibrahim's capture and information that leads to his arrest.

A curfew in Khartoum has been lifted but remained in force in Omdurman.

Announcing the break with Chad, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said his country reserved the right to retaliate.

But a Jem spokesman, Dr Eltahir Adam Elfaki, told the BBC the group had acted without Chad's help, arming itself with captured Sudanese equipment.

Chad said it regretted Sudan's "hasty decision" to break off diplomatic ties.

Suleiman Sandal, a Jem commander, told Western news agencies on Sunday that his forces were prepared to attack the capital again.

"This was just practice," he told the Associated Press by telephone.

"We promise to hit Khartoum one more time unless the [Darfur] issue is resolved."

Speaking to AFP, Mr Sandal said his forces had engaged in urban warfare for the first time, and had suffered casualties. He gave no details.

"Now we are gathering our troops and thinking about what we're doing," he added.

'No security'

JEM REBELS
Jem rebels in 2007
Founded by Darfuri Muslims loyal to Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi
Led by lawyer Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad
Believed to have up to 3,000 fighters
Now said to have fragmented into several disparate groups

On Saturday, Jem rebels said they had taken Omdurman and the Wadi Saidna air force base about 16km (10 miles) north of Khartoum, and entered the capital itself.

Omdurman residents said there had been more fighting on Sunday morning.

Experts say Chad and Sudan are fighting a proxy war using each other's rebels to achieve their military objectives.

The Jem is one of several rebel groups fighting the government and pro-government Janjaweed militia in the western Darfur region since 2003 over alleged discrimination by the authorities in favour of Arabs.

The rebels have been involved in raids on government forces in the area before.


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