Sudan's army on Friday said it clashed with fighters from two rebel factions in Darfur in a four-hour fight that left 21 people dead.
The military said forces from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) loyal to Minni Minnawi ambushed its men on a road between the capital of South Darfur state Nyala and the capital of North Darfur state El Fasher on Thursday evening.
"We killed 13 JEM and SLA ... and also we lost eight men from the Sudanese army," Sudanese army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled told Reuters on Friday, adding his men routed the insurgents.
Al-Tahir al-Feki, a senior JEM official based in Britain, said he was aware of the fighting but was still waiting for a detailed report from commanders on the ground.
Khaled said he thought the rebels were reacting to a recent statement from the country's minister of defence that a large part of the region was now clear of rebels. "This was their reply," the spokesman said.
The fighting took place between the villages of Menawashi and Kidnir in South Darfur he said.
Separately UNAMID reported it had helped move two aid workers for the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from a remote location in West Darfur after the government reported unspecified "threats" had been made against them.
Armed men abducted three Bulgarian helicopter crew working for the U.N. World Food Programme in West Darfur last week, the latest in a series of kidnappings targeting humanitarian staff.
ReutersLast Mod: 22 Ocak 2011, 13:40