N'DJAMENA, Nov 26 (Reuters) Chad's army said it had killed several hundred rebel fighters when it attacked a column of insurgents in fierce gun battles near the eastern border with Sudan's Darfur region today.
''The partial toll is around 50 (rebel) vehicles seized, around 40 vehicles destroyed, several hundred dead (on the rebel side) and several prisoners of war,'' the army said in a statement read on national television.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of the toll.
The statement said the army had attacked a rebel column early on Monday as it advanced on the eastern town of Abeche after raiding a military police post in the town of Hadjer Hadid on Saturday.
''When the security forces intercepted the column this morning ... fighting of a rare intensity began at Abou Goulem, 80 km east of Abeche,'' the statement said.
''The security and defence forces carried out a total and definitive annihilation of this column. The search (for rebels) continued until nightfall,'' it said.
The Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), one of Chad's two main rebel groups, said earlier it had come under attack by government forces at 0830 GMT.
The UFDD and a second rebel group, the Assembly of Forces for Change (RFC), said on Friday they would break a ceasefire as of Sunday, a month after four rebel groups signed a peace deal with President Idriss Deby's government.
Reuters AK VP0220