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Rebels Seize Capital Of Chad After Battle

From France’s AFP:

Chad's President Idriss Deby waves to supporters, in this Sunday, ...

Chad’s President Idriss Deby waves to supporters, in this Sunday, April 30, 2006 file photo, in the capital, N’djamena before his last election for a third term in the capital, N’Djamena.

Chad rebels seize capital after heavy fighting: military source

by Francesco Fontemaggi

NDJAMENA (AFP) – Chadian rebels seized the country’s capital on Saturday after intense fighting with government forces, while President Idriss Deby Itno remained holed up in the presidential palace, a military source said.

“The whole of the city is in the hands of the rebels. It’s down to mopping-up operations,” according to the military source.

France sent an extra 150 troops to the central African country and prepared to evacuate its citizens, while French Defence Minister Herve Morin said rebels were battling government forces as they closed in on the presidential palace…

The rebels had entered the capital in trucks armed with machine guns, rocket launchers and Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Intense firing during the morning had died down by midday (1100 GMT), but a column of black smoke was seen rising from near the presidential palace.

The rebels, in olive-green battledress and white armbands, were roaring around in camouflaged pick-up trucks, witnesses said, and had been welcomed with joy in some districts.

Witnesses also said the main prison in Ndjamena had been stormed and inmates released, while security sources reported some looting had taken place

France also warned its nationals located there to remain indoors and prepared to evacuate them. The country has 1,500 citizens in Chad, a former French colony, with 85 percent of them in the capital.

A rebel convoy of 300 pick-ups had been advancing on Ndjamena since Monday, when they left rear bases across the border in western Sudan’s Darfur.

The offensive — the biggest since April 2006 — comes after rebel leaders Timan Erdimi, Mahamat Nouri and Adbelwahid Aboud Makaye joined forces in mid-December after a peace pact with Deby fell apart…

African Union leaders meeting in Addis Ababa said the body “strongly condemns” the rebel attacks and “demands that an immediate end be put to these attacks and resulting bloodshed”.

The AU stressed it would reject any “unconstitutional change” of regime in Chad.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern at the fighting, and the world body has evacuated around 160 non-essential staff from Ndjamena.

The rebel offensive began the week an EU peacekeeping force was due to start deploying advance troops in Chad and neighbouring Central African Republic to protect civilians and refugees from the Darfur conflict.

The mission announced Friday a temporary delay in troop flights to Ndjamena, and an EU military spokesman said Saturday there were no plans to send members to Chad over the weekend as it was “still very unstable” on the ground.

Luckily, the locals will soon have it all under control:

African Union leaders meeting in Addis Ababa said the body “strongly condemns” the rebel attacks and “demands that an immediate end be put to these attacks and resulting bloodshed”.

And if not them, then the vaunted “peacekeepers” of the United Nations:

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern at the fighting, and the world body has evacuated around 160 non-essential staff from Ndjamena.

Still, one suspects the ultimate solution will entail the US sending over a few more billion dollars.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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