(AFP) – Sep 9, 2011
KHARTOUM — Darfur's most heavily armed rebel group warned Friday the governments of Chad and Sudan were planning a joint attack on their positions, after 100 rebel vehicles reportedly crossed the Libyan border.
"Chad and Sudan are preparing a joint operation to attack JEM," the Justice and Equality Movement's spokesman Gibril Adam Adam told AFP by phone.
"Chad is massing troops in Abeche and there are three Mig fighter planes at the airport there," he said, referring to a town in eastern Chad about 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Sudan's Darfur region.
"Sudan has given the Chadian government permission to go 300 kilometres inside Sudan's borders to target JEM," he added, calling on Chad not to intervene in the conflict.
A Sudanese army spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
A Chadian military official told AFP on Wednesday that elements of the Sudanese rebel group led by Khalil Ibrahim that had been stationed in Libya, crossed the Chad border near where the three countries meet last week, with about 100 cars and weapons supplied by Libya.
Ibrahim, who is from the same Zaghawa tribe as Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, was expelled from Chad last year and moved to Tripoli, after a surprise decision by Khartoum and N'Djamena to normalise relations following five years of conflict and successive rebellions.
The rebel spokesman dismissed the claim that large numbers of rebel troops had crossed the Chadian border.
"We don't have this many troops in Libya, and we never received weapons from (deposed Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi. The AFP report about 100 heavily-armed JEM vehicles crossing into Chad is completely incorrect," he said.
At least 300,000 people have been killed and 1.9 million people fled their homes since the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, the United Nations says.
The government puts the death toll from the conflict at 10,000.
Following a relative lull, there have been sporadic clashes in Darfur since December between a reunited coalition of rebel groups and government forces that have displaced more than 70,000 people, according to UN estimates.
Separately, two major conflicts have broken out this year between the army and the former rebel forces of the SPLM-North in South Kordofan, which borders Darfur, and Blue Nile state.
JEM and the two other main rebel groups operating in Darfur signed an agreement with the SPLM-North last month to form the nucleus of a united political and military movement to push for regime change.
The Khartoum government has shown itself increasingly determined to assert its authority within its new borders since the South Sudan formally seceded on July 9, moving to disarm troops outside its control.
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