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‘Grave concern’ over worsening Darfur unrest

KHARTOUM: International peacekeepers yesterday expressed grave concern about an upsurge of violence in Sudan’s Darfur, after they airlifted people wounded in recent clashes.
The fighting on Friday between government forces and “an armed group” near Shangil Tobay “is part of a larger pattern of conflict in the area in recent months,” said the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
“The escalating violence has become a matter of grave concern” to the mission, it said in a statement.
Rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said earlier that on Friday they attacked a large government convoy traveling north from Shangil Tobay, which is about 50 km south of El Fasher, the state capital of North Darfur.
They said they captured one armored vehicle and destroyed others, while seizing trucks and cars as well as equipment, weapons and ammunition. JEM said its forces worked with the Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction in the attack which “captured a number of government troops” and inflicted heavy losses. The rebels gave no specifics about casualties.
“Following the fighting, UNAMID airlifted, upon request, injured combatants... to El Fasher for further treatment,” UNAMID said. The mission has previously provided similar assistance to wounded combatants from both sides, it said.
Since July, civilians have been increasingly at risk from inter-communal fighting, harassment by militia groups and sporadic clashes between rebel and government troops, particularly in North Darfur, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a quarterly report issued on Oct. 16.

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