Khartoum, Sudan (CNN) -- A major Darfur rebel leader and some of his top commanders have been killed, a Sudanese army spokesman announced on state-run radio Sunday.
"Our armed forces were able to destroy the renegade Khalil Ibrahim, who died along with members of (his group's) leadership that was with him," said Alswarmi Khalid, the army's spokesperson.
Khalid said Ibrahim and members of his group were surrounded and killed in the Wad Banda area -- along the border between North Darfur state and North Kordofan state -- as they attempted to escape to South Sudan.
Fighting between Darfur rebels and the Sudanese army broke out days ago in North Kordofan, as rebels announced an assault on Khartoum.
Ibrahim was the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), considered the most powerful Darfur rebel group. The JEM had refused to join the Doha Darfur peace document, signed between the Sudanese government and another rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement, this year.
A statement posted on JEM's website confirmed Ibrahim's death, but told a different narrative of events.
"JEM announces the martyrdom of its chair and head of its armed forces and offers its condolences to all Sudanese people," the statement read.
The JEM said Ibrahim was attacked from air by an unknown plane that hit with "with accuracy unusual for the regime's army's fighters which led to his martyrdom ... which points to the involvement of and a conspiracy by some in the regional and international circles with Khartoum's genocidal regime."
The rebel group reconfirmed its commitment to remove the government from power.