4 civilians dead as army retakes Darfur town: AU-UN

Four civilians were killed as Sudanese forces recaptured a strategically located town in southern Darfur after an intense battle with rebels, peacekeepers said on Tuesday.

Government forces "have taken control of Labado town... after fierce fighting, which resulted in the death of four civilians and the wounding of six others," said Aicha Elbasri, spokeswoman for the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

The Sudan Liberation Army's Minni Minnawi faction claimed on Tuesday morning to have resisted a government counter-attack on Labado, maintaining their hold on the town and a second community, Muhagiriya.

Ten days ago they began an unusual occupation of the area about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala, Sudan's second city.

The rebels normally stage hit-and-run attacks.

Sudan's Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein vowed last week to move against insurgents in the two towns.

"The situation in and around Muhagiriya town, East Darfur, though relatively calm, remains tense," Elbasri said.

She added that the civilians wounded in Labado were receiving treatment at the local UNAMID base.

Thousands of civilians had sought shelter around peackeepers' camps in the area since the initial fighting began on April 6.

Muhagiriya and Labado are located strategically along main supply routes used by traders and aid workers to move supplies from Khartoum through East Darfur to South Darfur, the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said in its latest weekly bulletin.