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US says closely monitoring situation in Sudan

May 10, 2008 (WASHINGTON) — The US administration said it was "very concerned" about the outbreak of violence in Sudan between Darfur rebels and government troops and urged both sides to exercise restraint.

Darfurian rebels staged a bold attack and fought fierce battles with the Sudanese army on the outskirts of the capital. However the Sudanese government said it repulsed the attack and accused Chad of backing the assault.

"We are very concerned about the situation," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Texas where President Bush was attending his daughter Jenna’s wedding.

"We would urge that both sides cease hostilities, whether it is the rebel group or any response from the government. We want to see a calm and order restored," Johndroe said.

The White House spokesman said the U.S. Embassy there was monitoring the latest violence closely.

Later State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement saying Washington "condemns” the attack.

McCormack said the United States "implores both JEM and the Government of Sudan to guard against attacks against civilians in Omdurman and Darfur, and warns both sides against taking any retaliatory action based on ethnicity or tribe."

Fighting in Darfur has often spilled over into Chad, where several rebel groups are fighting to topple Deby. Chadian rebels have bases in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson told the congress last month that the Bush administration is pressuring Chadian president Idriss Deby to stop its backing of JEM.

International experts also say more than 300,000 were killed and 2 million have been driven from their homes by the conflict in Darfur, a region that is roughly the size of France.

(ST)