Chad rebels withdraw from capital

Chad rebels said today they withdrew voluntarily from Chad’s capital overnight, but it was unclear if they succumbed to the force of helicopter gunships and tanks deployed by government forces.

Chad rebels said today they withdrew voluntarily from Chad’s capital overnight, but it was unclear if they succumbed to the force of helicopter gunships and tanks deployed by government forces.

Rebel spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah said: “We decided to retreat to give the population a chance to get out.”

A hotel operator at the Meridien hotel said soldiers were patrolling the streets.

United Nations chiefs were planning further meetings today to discuss the fighting in the African country.

The UN Security Council met yesterday for emergency consultations on the situation and were set to resume work on the crisis.

A statement yesterday from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was “profoundly alarmed” by the fighting in N’Djamena.

Over the weekend, helicopter gunships strafed rebel positions and tanks rolled through the streets of the Chadian capital, turning it into a battle zone littered with bodies.

Dozens of civilians had been wounded in fighting that began when rebels trying to oust President Idriss Deby entered the capital on Saturday.

The violence threatens peacekeeping and aid operations intended to stabilise a region that borders the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan.

Chadian General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour claimed over the weekend that Sudanese troops were involved and called it a “declaration of war” from Sudan.

Chad’s Foreign Minister Amad Allam-Mi said: “Sudan does not want this force because it would open a window on the genocide in Darfur.”

Sudan has repeatedly denied any involvement.

“We would like to stress that Sudan does not provide any assistance to any side,” Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadeq said.

“Any developments in Chad reflect on Sudan and any instability there would have a negative impact on Sudan.”

The statement from the UN’s Mr Ban said that “he appeals to all countries in the region to respect the inviolability of international borders and to prevent any incursions from being launched from within their territory”.

France offered to take Mr Deby out of Chad, Defence Minister Herve Morin said yesterday.

“France has clearly offered support to Idriss Deby by telling him that if he felt threatened, in danger, that we would try to get him out,” said Mr Morin.

Mr Deby came to power through a rebel force that seized N’Djamena in 1990.

The rebels arrived on Friday on the capital’s outskirts in about 250 pickup trucks mounted with machine guns after a three-day push across the desert from Chad’s eastern border with Sudan. They entered the city early on Saturday, quickly spreading through the streets.

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