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Darfur rebel leader killed

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-12-25 14:13

KHARTOUM - The Sudanese army announced Sunday that the head of the main rebel group in the restive western region of Darfur had been killed.

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), "was killed today morning at the Wad Banda area in the North Kordofan State," the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) said in a statement without elaboration.

The JEM, which is considered the most powerful rebel group in Darfur, said Thursday that their fighters had reached Kordofan region on their way to the Sudanese capital in order to topple the government.

The SAF on Friday confirmed attacks by JEM fighters in North Kordofan's Um Qozain, Qoz Abyad and Armal areas, not far from North Darfur, where the rebels are based.

SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad accused the rebels of targeting the inhabitants of the three locations.

The JEM, which participated in the Doha process to end the Darfur conflict, has refused to sign a peace agreement with the government. Last November, it forged an alliance with two other factions to overthrow the government.

Ibrahim returned to Darfur last September from Libya, where he had lived a long time before Muammar Gaddafi was toppled. The Sudanese government had accused the Gaddafi regime of supporting the JEM, providing arms to the rebel group and hosting and training its members.

In May 2008, the JEM launched an attack on Khartoum, which was the only rebel attack on the capital since the conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003, but was quickly repulsed by government forces.

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