Rebel accusations that new government air raids killed 26 civilians in Sudan's troubled Darfur region cast a pall over peace talks in Nigeria, where African Union mediators struggled Wednesday to broker an end to fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people.
A Sudanese army official denied the rebel report. Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ismail, deputy chief of staff, said that there had been no new violence in Darfur, which the United Nations has said is the site of the worst humanitarian crisis.
A spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Army, Mahgoup Hussain, said the bombings occurred Tuesday and Wednesday in Allaiat, in eastern Darfur.
Wednesday, about 100 delegates gathered around a large oval table at an international conference center in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. As on Tuesday, talks broke off early after the African Union failed to get the two sides to discuss a long-term political solution for Darfur.
An earlier round of peace talks ended without a truce in September after rebels refused to sign a humanitarian accord giving aid organizations wider access to refugees. Rebels insist they will not sign the accord without an accompanying security agreement first.