A senior JEM spokesman said that government planes bombed two western villages in the Darfur region on 22 December killing at least 18 people. Officials in Khartoum have not commented on the allegation. ‘Eighteen people were killed and 25 wounded,’ JEM general co-ordinator Abu Bakr Hamid al-Nur told Reuters. ‘Two villages were destroyed and the civilians left the dead unburied and fled to the mountains.’

In a separate incident, another seven people were killed when local tribesmen raided the western town of Kebkabiya on 21 December, reported the local daily, Al-Hayat. The assailants were detained shortly after the incident.

The ongoing ceasefire between the government and the main rebel group in southern Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), does not apply to other rebel organisations operating in the area. The JEM claimed on 7 December that it had killed about 700 government troops in the western Darfur region two days earlier. The alleged incident took place near the Abu Gamra dam, some 45 kilometres north of Kebkabiya, in the north of the region (MEED 8:12:03).