KHARTOUM, (AFP) – The Sudanese army said 75 of its troops and more than 300 fighters of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement have been killed in clashes in Darfur over the past week.
General Al-Tayeb Musbah Osman, the army’s commander for the war-torn western region, said the army had also captured 86 JEM fighters, in a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency late on Friday.
It is unusual for the army to acknowledge such large losses in its own ranks.
The JEM said on Tuesday that it was locked in fresh fighting with the army, a day after the International Criminal Court charged Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir with genocide over his government’s conduct of the conflict in Darfur.
In March 2009, the ICC already issued a warrant for Beshir’s arrest on war crimes charges and charges of crimes against humanity in connection with the conflict.
The most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel factions, the JEM has refused to join peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha after a framework accord it signed with the government ran into problems earlier this year.
Another large rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction of Abdelwahid Nur, is also boycotting talks.
Southern former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement offered on Wednesday to mediate between the Khartoum government and the two rebel groups in a bid to break the deadlock.
US special envoy Scott Gration was in Khartoum on Saturday for talks with UN and African Union officials and other diplomats on how to move the moribund peace process forward.
Darfur, an arid region the size of France, has been gripped by civil war since ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated government in 2003.
Some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million fled their homes, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have been killed.