Darfur rebel group leader killed

 

The Sudanese army said it killed the leader of the main Darfur rebel
group in fighting today and touted his death as a key victory.

The army said Khalil Ibrahim, who led the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, was killed during a military offensive in North Kordofan state to retaliate for a deadly rebel attack there on Saturday. JEM is the most organized and effective military force in Darfur, the western region torn by conflict since 2003. JEM did not join a peace deal signed last year between other Darfur rebel groups and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's government in Khartoum.

JEM representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. But if Ibrahim's death is confirmed, it would be a serious blow to JEM, which has on several occasions threatened to bring down al-Bashir's regime in Khartoum by advancing toward the capital.

Darfur has been in turmoil since 2003, when ethnic African rebels accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination took up arms against it. The Khartoum government is accused of retaliating by unleashing Arab militias on civilians — a charge the government denies. The conflict has tapered off since 2009, but the U.N. estimates 300,000 people died and 2.7 million have been displaced. The International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued an international arrest warrant for al-Bashir for his alleged role in crimes against humanity in Darfur.

An army statement carried by Sudan's official SUNA news agency said Ibrahim and several associates were killed in Wad Banda, about 440 miles (700 kilometers) west of Khartoum in the North Kordofan region, which borders Darfur.

"The army cut all paths for the group as it was retreating and trying to cross into South Sudan to reorganize it forces," said Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled. "Our gallant armed forces were able to kill rebel Khalil Ibrahim along with some of his associates."

South Sudan seceded from the north in July to become the world's newest nation.

Fighting in Wad Banda had flared up in the past few days. On Saturday, the Sudanese army said Darfur rebels attacked three locations in neighboring North Kordofan, killing an unspecified number of civilians.

JEM has not claimed responsibility for the attack. However, in a dramatic push in 2008, hundreds of JEM fighters drove through the remote western region and attacked Khartoum's western outskirts. More recently, JEM spread its armed presence from Darfur into North Kordofan.

Ibrahim is believed to have recently returned to Sudan after years in exile in neighboring Libya, where he enjoyed the patronage of Moammar Gadhafi before he was ousted and killed in October at the hands of revolutionary fighters.

Ibrahim once served in al-Bashir's government before joining the rebellion. He refused to join a peace agreement signed in Qatar and backed by the African Union that was meant to provide a basis for a cease-fire, power sharing, equal distribution of wealth and compensation for displaced people.

"He completely refused to come to the negotiating table, he never joined the peace talks," Ismail el-Haj Musa, Sudanese deputy speaker of the council of states, told the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera TV on Sunday. "He committed acts against the state."

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future