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Darfur rebels confirm death of their leader

In this Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007 file photo,

In this Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007 file photo, Khalil Ibrahim, who led the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), is seen during an interview in the town of Abeche in eastern Chad. Credit: AP

The main Darfur rebel group on Monday confirmed that its leader, Khalil Ibrahim, has been killed.

The Justice and Equality Movement, said in a statement posted on its website that Ibrahim was killed early Friday when his camp was attacked by a plane.

Sudan announced Sunday that its forces killed Ibrahim, calling his death a serious blow to JEM, which has threatened to attack the Sudanese capital in the past. JEM has continued its fight against Sudan despite a peace accord signed by other groups.

The Sudanese army said Ibrahim was wounded in fighting on Thursday and died of his wounds Saturday.

The JEM statement vowed that "the martyr's blood will not be wasted, and those who killed him will pay the price more than double."

Sudanese Information Minister Abdullah Massar said Sunday that Ibrahim's death sends a message to rebel groups "to listen to the voice of wisdom and join the peace process."

"Our doors are open and the Doha agreement is open," Massar said.

Darfur has been in turmoil since 2003, when ethnic African rebels accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination took up arms against it. The Khartoum government is accused of retaliating by unleashing Arab militias on civilians — a charge the government denies.

The conflict has tapered off since 2009, but the U.N. estimates 300,000 people died and 2.7 million have been displaced. The International Criminal Court in the Hague has issued an international arrest warrant for al-Bashir for his alleged role in crimes against humanity in Darfur.

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