KHARTOUM - Sudan's armed forces attacked rebels near the capital of the oil-producing South Kordofan state on Monday, killing 18 people, a state-linked website said, in an escalation of recent fighting on several fronts in Sudan's borderlands.

Sudan's government is battling an alliance of rebels in the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile which both border Khartoum's arch rival South Sudan.

The fighting is overshadowing current talks between Sudan and South Sudan in Ethiopia over a border security agreement to end hostilities after both nations came close to war in April.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting the rebels in the disputed border region, while Juba says Khartoum funds militias in South Sudan. Diplomats say both allegations are credible.

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