The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) refuted Tuesday Darfur armed movements' claim that they have shot down an attack helicopter in the region, but acknowledged that clashes took place in the region and killed 25 rebels, official SUNA news agency reported.
"The air force actively participated in these battles and all planes have returned safely to their base after the battle," SUNA quoted SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad as saying.
"There is one helicopter that experienced a technical fault which necessitated it to land near El Fasher airport, and all its crew are in good condition," said Saad.
Media reports earlier quoted Minni Minnawi, a leader of the Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction, as saying that " we have shot down an attack helicopter in clashes in Tabit area in North Darfur."
Meanwhile, Saad acknowledged that there were clashes between the SAF and the rebels, saying "the armed forces clashed at local time 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) with remnants of the rebels in a big battle in Tabit area."
"Our forces destroyed the rebel movements, confiscated four vehicles and destroyed six others," he said, adding "the rebels then fled to Takmary area after the armed forces killed 25 of them and left many others injured."
Clashes have recently increased between Khartoum and the Darfur rebels since the Sudanese government withdrew its negotiating delegation from the Qatari-hosted peace talks on Darfur on Dec, 30, 2010 after collapse of endeavors for signing a peace agreement.