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Sudan says troops kill hundreds of Darfur rebels

The Sudanese army said it inflicted a series of defeats on Darfur's most powerful rebel group, killing and capturing hundreds in a series of clashes over the past few days.

General Al-Tayeb al-Musbah Osman, the commander of the western region, told the state news agency that the army killed at least 300 members of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and captured another 86, destroying dozens of their vehicles.

He added in last night's report that 75 Sudanese soldiers lost their lives in fighting across five areas of the north.

For its part, JEM said it had clashed with government forces, but maintained it had defeated them.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in the area confirmed fighting took place but provided no casualty figures.

The conflict began in Darfur with a 2003 rebellion by groups who accused the government of neglecting the vast desert region. The UN estimates that some 300,000 people have died as a result of violence, disease and displacement since the fighting began.

In May, the army said it killed hundreds of JEM fighters in clashes across Darfur, following the collapse of peace talks between rebels and the government.

The government signed a cease-fire with JEM, the most effective of the many rebel groups in Darfur, raising hopes that some measure of peace might come to the vast, war-ravaged region where some 2.6 million people have been displaced by fighting.