Sudan’s armed forces claim to have killed the leader of the most powerful rebel group in western Darfur, Khalil Ibrahim.
If confirmed Ibrahim’s death could be a major blow to his Justice and Equality Movement which refused to sign a peace deal between the government in Khartoum and other rebels fighting in the Darfur region.
An armed forces spokesman said Ibrahim had been with other leaders trying to retreat into Southern Sudan when troops engaged and killed him.
Before the announcement the JEM said that their fighters were planning to move on Khartoum and had clashed with government troops.
Mainly ethnic African insurgent groups took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-dominated government claiming they were being discriminated against in Darfur.
The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have been killed with millions more forced from their homes by the fighting.
The government in Khartoum claims 10,000 people have died.