Sudan’s army said Wednesday a rebel group which has refused to sign a key peace deal had shelled a town in the southern state of West Kordofan, wounding two officers. The reported artillery strikes in Lagawa, some 580 kilometres (360 miles) southwest of the capital Khartoum, comes after ethnic clashes last week in a land dispute near the town left several people dead. “Forces belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) launched indiscriminate shellings”, the armed forces said in a statement. It said the attacks, which took place on Tuesday, smashed into a market and two neighbourhoods in Lagawa and wounded two members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The army said rebel troops then launched an assault, but soldiers were able “to force them to withdraw”. The SPLM-N rebels in the area, a faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu based in the rugged Nuba Mountains, has not commented on the reports. It follows clashes which erupted on Friday following a “dispute over land ownership” between rival ethnic Nuba and Arab Misseriya groups, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The UN said there were “reports of 12 people killed and 20 wounded” in the violence on Friday, but Sudan’s armed forces said five had died. Rebels denied involvement in the fighting. On Tuesday, as the state governor visited Lagawa “in an attempt to de-escalate the situation”, the town was hit by shelling “reportedly coming from nearby mountains”, the UN said. The latest violence comes as Sudan grapples with deepening political unrest and a spiralling economic crisis since last year’s military coup, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Hilu’s SPLM-N was once part of the rebel force fighting the 1983-2005 civil war against Khartoum, which ended in a peace deal that paved the way for the eventual independence of South Sudan in 2011. The rebel SPLM-N, left in the rump state of Sudan, continued to battle the government of president Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019. Following Bashir’s ouster, a civilian-military transitional government declared a “permanent ceasefire”. Hilu’s faction was one of two holdout groups who refused to sign a 2020 peace deal. The army said Tuesday’s attacks were “a clear violation of the ceasefire and hostilities agreement”.