Sudanese troops in battle at Darfur refugee camp

Sudanese government forces attacked one of Darfur’s largest refugee camps at dawn Monday, killing dozens of civilians, according to rebels and a witness in the camp.

Sudan’s military acknowledged a firefight, but said shooting began when soldiers tried to raid the camp to search for smuggled weapons. It put the number of casualties at 12, including five soldiers.

The United Nations said it was “gravely concerned” about the situation inside the Kalma camp in southern Darfur after it received reports that Sudanese police vehicles surrounded it and subsequent shooting caused “injuries and deaths of civilians.”

The U.N. did not provide a death toll. But a resident of the camp, Mandela Abdullah Mohammed, told The Associated Press by telephone that he counted 32 bodies, including several women and children.

More than 50 vehicles “packed with armed men wearing police and security forces’ uniforms … hit us with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns,” Mohammed said.

But a military spokesman said government troops were fired on first.

“They were surprised by heavy gunfire from within the camp. There was an exchange of fire and a number of victims,” said spokesman Sawarmy Khaled, without elaborating. He said the fighting had stopped by Monday night.

In a subsequent statement carried by the official SUNA news agency, the government said troops entered because of a persistent… >>>

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