Sudanese rebels on Saturday said they captured one government armoured vehicle and destroyed others in a battle near the capital of North Darfur state, which has seen an upsurge in violence.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said insurgents on Friday afternoon attacked a large government convoy travelling north from Shangil Tobay, which is about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of El Fasher, the state capital. Sudan's army spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Along with the armoured vehicle, rebels seized trucks and cars as well as equipment, weapons and ammunition, JEM said in a statement. It said its forces worked with the Sudan Liberation Army's Minni Minnawi faction in the attack which "captured a number of government troops" and inflicted heavy losses. The statement gave no specifics about casualties.
Darfur rebels are allied with insurgents from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in a Revolutionary Front which aims to overthrow the government. The Sudanese Armed Forces began using using armoured fighting vehicles in Darfur ground combat last year, the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based independent research project, said in a July report.
Sudan has accused South Sudan of working with the JEM, a charge denied by the South. But suspected JEM fighters were seen alongside South Sudanese troops during border fighting between Sudan and South Sudan in April. In September, the two nations signed in Addis Ababa agreements on border security and other issues which they hailed as ending their conflict.
A Sudan analyst and humanitarian sources have said they expected fighting to increase in Darfur after the Addis agreements as more rebels returned to their home turf from the South.
Since July, civilians have been increasingly at risk from inter-communal fighting, harassment by militia groups and sporadic clashes between rebel and government troops, particularly in North Darfur, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a quarterly report issued on October 16.
Ethnic rebels from JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army began their uprising against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003. Though violence is down from its peak, various overlapping conflicts continue in the form of banditry, inter-Arab and tribal disputes as well as government-rebel clashes in the far-west region.