Chad's government has acknowledged that its forces crossed into Sudanese territory Monday and clashed with Sudanese troops.

Reversing a previous denial of the incident, Chad's Information Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said Tuesday that Chadian troops had crossed the border to pursue rebels they had been fighting in eastern Chad.

He said the clash occurred when Chad's troops made contact with Sudan's forces, whom he said had been deployed to protect the rebels' retreat.

Sudan's military says 17 of its soldiers were killed in the clash, and that its troops forced the Chadians back across the border.

Chad and Sudan have repeatedly accused each other of supporting the other country's rebel movements. Cross-border raids and incidents have continued despite mediation efforts by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Both countries have refused the deployment of international peacekeepers on their border.