Sudan rebels claim strike on Kordofan village

KHARTOUM - Sudanese rebels on Sunday said they have struck a village near the South Kordofan border, where a resident confirmed fighting was underway.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said it "took control" of Abu Zabad, in North Kordofan state a few kilometres (miles) from South Kordofan, where rebels have been fighting for two years.

"We were awakened at 6:00 am by continuous loud explosions and the sound of shooting," a resident who asked not to be named for security reasons told AFP.

"Armed men in Land Cruisers drove into the village and targeted a SAF compound and the police station," he said, referring to the Sudan Armed Forces.

Fearful residents sought shelter inside their homes, he added.

"We control all government buildings there," JEM spokesman Gibril Adam Bilal told AFP.

Sudan's army spokesman could not immediately comment on the incident.

Abu Zabad, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of the North Kordofan capital El Obeid, is alongside the country's main east-west railway line.

It is also about 60 kilometres from Dilling town in South Kordofan, where JEM rebels and fighters from the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North last week claimed their first major attack of the dry season.

They said they ambushed a military convoy near Dilling, leaving "many dead bodies".

The rebels belong to an alliance which seeks to topple the Khartoum regime and install a government more representative of the country's diversity.

Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told parliament last week that his forces were commencing an operation to crush the insurgents over the next few months.