Khartoum: Sudan`s Army killed a key rebel leader and 30 of his Darfur-based troops in a battle which was still continuing Sunday, officials said, after rebels announced an advance towards the capital.
Khalil Ibrahim, 54, who led the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), was wounded on Thursday evening in a clash with government forces in Umm-Gozain, an area of North Kordofan state near North Darfur, army spokesman Sawarmi
Khaled Saad told reporters.
"He died on Saturday evening" and was buried shortly afterwards, he said.
"In the clashes on Thursday, 30 of his troops were killed and a number of them were injured," Saad added. "We destroyed 12 Land Cruisers, four trucks and a tanker of oil."
The battle was continuing today, Information Minister Abdullah Ali Massar said at the same news conference, where officials refused to answer questions.
"The fighting is still going on in North Kordofan and North Darfur," Massar said.
Ibrahim`s JEM was once the most heavily armed group in the Darfur region, although its recent strength remains unclear.
JEM said it would issue a statement later today.
Asked about the reported killing, a source close to the group said: "I`m pretty sure it`s true."
Ibrahim`s wife and daughter tried to hold a mourning ceremony at their home in south Khartoum but police forbade it, a witness told a news agency.