Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Hundreds dead in Darfur battles

Map of Sudan

Up to 250 people were killed in clashes in Sudan's Darfur region in the last week, says the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (Unamid).

Unamid says 150 people died as hundreds of members of the Fallata and Salamat ethnic groups attacked the Habaniya in South Darfur.

About 100 more died in clashes between two groups from the Gimir group.

These clashes do not appear to be directly linked to the Darfur conflict between Arabs and black Africans.

But UN officials say ethnic relations have not been helped by the Darfur conflict, which started in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the western region.

This has seen an increased flow of weapons to the region.

Unamid says it also received reports more than 5,000 people fled their homes after a village was burned and looted.

Six police officers were among the dead, Unamid said.

The BBC's Amber Henshaw in Khartoum says many ethnic conflicts are caused by disputes over access to grazing land and water.

Activists have accused Khartoum of trying to arm groups from some of the groups involved in the recent fighting, of buying their allegiance and using them as proxies against the rebels.

The UN estimates that up to 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes in Darfur and some 300,000 have died during five and a half years of conflict.

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