KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – The Sudanese government on Sunday denied involvement in a new wave of violence in the Darfur region that killed more than 50 people, blaming “outlaws” for the attacks.

The United Nations released a report Friday accusing the government-allied janjaweed militia of raiding seven villages and a refugee camp in the Jebel Moon area of West Darfur on Oct. 29-30.

The U.N. cited witnesses saying that men clad in Sudanese military officers’ garb were with the horse-mounted militia when they attacked, killing at least 27 children and about as many adults.

“At the very least, the attacks demonstrated the government of Sudan’s continued failure to disarm militia in Darfur, and at worst its use of militia forces that target civilian populations,” the U.N. report said.

Sudan’s government dismissed the report as misleading.

More than 200,000 people have since been killed, and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict.

“We should be cautious about these reports circulated by the western media because they contain huge amounts of lies, manipulation and lack of credibility,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali Sadeq told the official Sudan News Agency.

“There are active outlaws in Darfur and it is not fair to accuse the government for all the looting, killing and violence,” Sadeq added.

Sudan’s Arab-dominated government has long denied backing the janjaweed, a militia of Arab nomads blamed for much of the atrocities against ethnic African villagers in Darfur since 2003, when African rebels first took up arms against Khartoum.

A May peace agreement between the government and one rebel group has been largely ignored and violence has escalated in recent months, with increased rebel infighting and a large army offensive in the north of the region.

The foreign ministry said that neither the Sudanese army nor regular pro-government paramilitary groups were at present fighting in Darfur, contradicting multiple reports by international observers in Darfur that the army and pro-government militia continue to regularly clash with rebels in the region.

In August, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution that would allow the U.N. to take control of and significantly expand a peacekeeping force in Darfur, run so far by the African Union. But Khartoum opposes the move as “neocolonial.”

On Sunday, Mini Minnawi, the rebel chief who signed the peace agreement with Sudan and has since become a senior assistant to the Sudanese president, said the government must take “appropriate measures” to quell the violence in Darfur if it wants to avert a U.N. presence.

AP-ES-11-05-06 2029EST

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