Khalid Ballal, a member of the consultative council of the ruling National Congress Party, said on Monday the armed gang had robbed the villagers in the western Darfur region before setting their homes ablaze, the privately-owned Alwan reported.

"The locality of Jalingi was subjected to an attack by unknown persons on Thursday and Friday," the newspaper quoted Ballal as saying, referring to a predominantly African tribal area near the border with Chad.

Rivalry between Arab cattle herders and African farming communities in Darfur is common and fuelled by competition over dwindling water resources and pastures caused by desertification.

Government accused

It was not immediately clear if the villages targeted were among more than six which a Sudanese parliamentarian last week said had been torched by Arab tribal militias in a raid which killed 34.

Darfur's African tribes accuse Sudan's Islamist government of supporting the Arab tribesmen or turning a blind eye.

The latest attacks did not appear linked to an uprising in the west by the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), which has recently signed a ceasefire with the government.

The SLM/A accuses the government of marginalising the region.