O'Dea to visit troops in Chad

Defence Minister Willie O’Dea is due to visit Irish troops serving in Chad tomorrow despite weekend clashes in the troubled country.

Some of the 400 Irish soldiers on the Eufor mission were fired upon in a skirmish between the Chadian army and armed rebels yesterday.

Irish peacekeepers returned warning fire from their armoured vehicle.

There were no Irish injuries in the incident which happened near Goz Beida, in the south east of Chad.

A Defence Forces spokesman said the situation has calmed since the incident.

“The Irish troops have been continuing their patrol in and around Goz Beida town itself and on the perimeters of the refugee camp.

“There are no clashes or any firing today,” the spokesman said.

Mr O’Dea is expected to use his three-day official visit to meet Irish military officers and Chadian government representatives.

The minister will be accompanied by Defence Forces chief of staff, Lt Gen Dermot Earley and Department of Defence officials.

Irish soldiers are tasked with protecting about 400,000 refugees who have fled into Chad from the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Irish troops mount daily patrols and support the work of international aid agencies.

Mr O’Dea has described the operation as one of the most challenging missions ever undertaken by the Defence Forces.

A group of 50 Army Rangers and 60 military construction personnel returned home to Ireland last week after a three-month mission in Chad.


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