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Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:42 am Post subject: SUDAN : Rebels Claims 2 Choppers down
Cairo - Rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region said on Friday they had downed two helicopters and killed 13 Sudanese officers, and denied that 200 members of their movement had died in a government attack.
"The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and its allies categorically deny information put out by the the Sudanese army on Thursday," the rebel movement said in a statement received by AFP in Cairo.
The group said that in fact "government forces and Janjaweed militiamen suffered heavy losses and fled towards the town of Kutum, leaving several dead behind them - including 13 officers of different ranks".
On Thursday the Sudanese army said it had killed 200 rebels in repulsing a massive attack by rebels on Kutum in northern Darfur a day earlier, and said four of its soldiers had been killed and 20 wounded in the action.
Friday's rebel statement also said the SLM/A had "shot down two military helicopters, destroyed seven military vehicles and seized 13 cars containing military equipment".
The group said that in making its claims, Khartoum wanted to "disguise the series of defeats suffered recently by government forces and the Janjaweed" proxy militia.
The SLM/A said that six of its members had been killed in the Kutum operation and 17 were wounded.
The group belongs to the National Redemption Front (NRF), a coalition created by movements that did not sign the Abuja accord in May aimed at ending the conflict in Darfur where the United Nations says at least 200,000 people have died from the combined effect of war and famine in nearly four years.
Wednesday's fighting came amid intensified efforts to reach an agreement on the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur as Washington warned that Khartoum had until year's end to accept or face coercive action.
The conflict erupted in February 2003 when ethnic minority rebels complaining of marginalisation launched an uprising which was fiercely repressed by government troops and its allied Janjaweed militia.
A peace deal was signed in the Nigerian capital in May between the Khartoum government and the main rebel faction from the Sudan Liberation Movement, but the two other negotiating factions - including rebels who later formed the NRF - rejected the accord, which has failed to take hold. _________________ Serving the Civil Helo Industry - www.heliopsmag.com
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