An alliance of Sudanese rebel groups have launched an attack on the city of Um Rawaba, advancing closer to the capital, Khartoum. They are seeking to topple President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted on war crimes.
Rebels from the embattled Darfur region assaulted the city of Um Rawaba on Saturday, moving to within 500 kilometers (300 miles) of Khartoum. Fighting had been previously restricted to the remote regions of Darfur and the South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
Fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) arrived in 20 trucks, according to residents, and managed to penetrate the center of the city.
The Sudanese army claimed that it had reclaimed control of the city, after the rebels had destroyed a power plant, petrol stations and a telecommunications tower.
"The defeated rebels have withdrawn, and the army is continuing to expel elements of the rebels who have run away in different directions," army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid told the state news agency SUNA.
But JEM spokesman Gibril Adam said that rebel forces had only withdrawn from the city center to the outskirts of Um Rawaba.
Meanwhile, the rebel group SPLM-North claimed that it had captured four villages in South Kordofan state. SPLM-North also participated in the assault on Um Rawaba.
In 2008, JEM rebels launched an assault on Khartoum and were stopped just short of the presidential palace and army headquarters.
slk/ch (AP, Reuters)