(photo credit: )
The Sudanese military said Monday that seventeen of its soldiers were killed repelling a Chadian army raid on a Sudanese border town in West Darfur.
Sudanese army spokesman Osman Mohamed al-Aghbash said in a statement issued by the military that a company of the Chadian army, consisting of 140 trucks and seven armored vehicles, crossed into Sudan and attacked For Baranga, a small town within several kilometers of the Chad border.
He said the Sudanese army and police pushed the attackers back across the border, but seventeen soldiers were killed and 40 wounded in the process.
The statement also said the raid "caused big losses among civilians" that were still being calculated.
The Chadian government could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sudan and Chad often trade accusations of harboring each other's rebels, and important components of the Chadian rebellion are suspected of being hosted by the Sudanese government near For Baranga. Chad has invoked a "right of pursuit" in the past to cross into Sudan to chase rebels that had allegedly attacked its military.
Al-Aghbash appeared on Sudanese state-run television later in the day, describing Monday's attack as "unreasonable aggression" and claiming Sudan can respond.
"We assure that peace is our strategic choice, but this will not make us ignore that the enemies of peace are scheming to destroy these efforts and we assure that we are capable of dealing with all the ways of betrayal," he said.
For Baranga is located in the extreme southwest portion of Sudan's troubled Darfur region where the borders of Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic meet. Boundaries in the area are loosely defined, and refugees often move from one country to another trying to escape violence.
An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in the four-year conflict in Darfur that began when rebels from ethnic African tribes rose up against the central government. Khartoum is accused of having responded with indiscriminate killings by unleashing the janjaweed militias of Arab nomads - blamed for the worst atrocities in Darfur. The government denies these charges.