Chad army in fresh clashes with rebels, hundreds quizzed over protests
Government troops and rebels clashed on Thursday in a region of western Chad where the late president Idriss Deby was killed earlier this month, military officials said, as prosecutors interviewed several hundred protesters arrested in recent days.
The fighting in the desert region of Kanem, near Chad’s border with Niger, pits Libya-based rebels against forces loyal to a new military junta led by Deby’s son.
Fiercely criticised for authoritarianism and inequality, Deby was seen as a trusty ally by many Western countries including the former colonial power France, especially in the fight against jihadism in the wider Sahel region on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert.
“Fighting is continuing in Kanem – we are going to have continue to fight, otherwise they will destabilise us,” junta spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna told AFP.
The so-called Military Transition Council (CMT) is headed by 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby.
The military said late Thursday that an MI24 helicopter had crashed due to a technical fault but did not specify if there were casualties. The rebels however said they had “destroyed” it.
For now, the fighting against the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), drawn mainly from the Goran ethnic group, is going on about 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of the capital N’Djamena.
The rebels have threatened to march on N’Djamena, where a team from the African Union arrived Thursday to assess the situation and examine ways of a speedy return to democratic rule.
The team will stay in Chad for a week.
Security sources, without giving further details, said the Chadian army bombarded FACT positions.
Deby, 68, died on April 19 from wounds he suffered fighting the Libya-based rebels, according to the authorities.
The insurgents had launched an offensive in the northern Tibesti region on April 11 as presidential elections were unfolding…..read more