SLM fighters are claiming to have
killed government soldiers

SLM Secretary General Mani Arkoi Minawi said on Friday his fighters staged a military operation a day earlier and “annihilated” an unspecified number of soldiers.

The rebel leader said his forces had captured 25 vehicles, as well as arms, including rocket launchers and heavy machine guns.

 

The operation took place in the Adar area of north Darfur state. Darfur has been the scene of recent fighting between government and rebel forces, which have been fighting in a civil war for 20 years.    

 

Minawi said Sunday his group was willing to join the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in peace talks with the government.

 

The movement, he said, had decided to “begin a dialogue with the SPLA in order to reach a comprehensive solution on the entire Sudanese territory”.

 

The SLM has claimed responsibility for a number of military operations in the Darfur region since February when the group first surfaced.

 

"Armed outlaws"

 

The government has refused to recognise the rebel groups’ political demands in the troubled region of north, south and west Darfur.

 

The government has repeatedly referred to military operations there as the work of “armed criminal gangs and outlaws”.

 

It accuses tribes in neighbouring Chad of aiding the rebels.

 

The operations in Darfur come a day after a Kenyan peace envoy said a peace deal between the government and southern rebels would be ready for signing in August.

 

The Kenyan president’s special peace envoy in Sudan, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, said international pressure and the situation inside Sudan would encourage the government to sign.

 

“I am optimistic about peace. A lot of the disagreements the two sides had have been resolved”, he said.

 

The next round of peace talks might start later this month or in July, he said.

 

Around two million people have been killed in Sudan since the civil war began in 1983.

 

The SPLA is fighting government forces to gain more autonomy for the south.