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The Chad News Archive

Chad: 125 rebels killed in eastern battle

AP (5/8/09)

N'DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — The Chadian government said the army defeated a rebel column that was heading to the capital and was pursuing other fighters, but rebels denied this Friday.

Chadian rebels have been trying to overthrow President Idriss Deby for more than three years.

Communications Minister Mahamat Hissene said soldiers killed 125 rebels and captured 152, including top commander Mahamat Amoda Bechir during a battle Thursday in the eastern Chad town of Am Dam, 367 miles (590 kilometers) east of the capital, N'Djamena.

"The column which entered (Am Dam) was completely annihilated," interim Defense Minister Adoum Younousmi told journalists late Thursday.

But the rebels said Friday on a Web site that they defeated government forces and will soon give more details.

Later, the communications minister said the army had on Friday destroyed 60 vehicles belonging to the rebels in Haouich, which is southwest of Am Dam. He did not give any more details.

The defense minister said that the rebels were armed with sophisticated equipment, including high-tech communications devices.

He said another column of rebels near the border with the Central African Republic is cornered and being fought.

Interior and Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said a rebel column is also in an area called Sila in eastern Chad and killed some civilians Thursday and looted shops and granaries.

Bachir said all main eastern Chad towns remain secure.

In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the African Union's Peace and Security Council met Friday to discuss Chad.

Chad's AU Ambassador Cherif Mahmet Zene lambasted the council for failing to condemn the rebel advance. Zene said Chad is certain the rebels came from Sudan and are being funded by Khartoum.

"We are asking the African Union to have the courage to say, you are the aggressor, don't do it again," he told his fellow diplomats.

In Uganda, Sudan's deputy ambassador Abd El-Rahim El-Siddig Mohamed denied his country was involved in the rebellion, saying Chad was "propagating baseless accusations."

The latest reports of clashes follow the signing of a deal to normalize relations between Chad and Sudan over the weekend in Qatar. The countries had only restored diplomatic ties in November after a six-month rift over accusations of assisting each others' rebels.

Eastern Chad is temporary home to about 300,000 refugees who have fled Sudan's Darfur conflict. The region also has camps for 187,000 Chadians displaced by fighting locally and in Darfur.

The Chadian rebels said this week that they clashed with government forces on Tuesday just south of eastern Chad's main town, Abeche. The town is a humanitarian hub and is the location of one of three bases that France, the former colonial power, has in Chad. The rebels say they seized 12 military vehicles mounted with machine-guns. But the government denies such a clash took place or any of their vehicles have been taken.

The rebels, who include some former army officers and relatives of President Deby, have accused him of not being aggressive enough in supporting a rebellion in neighboring Darfur, whose residents have relatives on the Chadian side.

The rebellion started after Chad became an oil producer in October 2003.

The group currently fighting the government, the Force for the Union of Resistance Forces, is led by Deby's nephew Timane Erdimi, who was in charge of oil affairs in the president's office before falling out with him.

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