Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Chad rebels fight gov't force in capital

Expand Messages
  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080202/ap_on_re_af/chad Chad rebels fight gov t force in capital By TOM MALITI, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 2 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2008

      Chad rebels fight gov't force in capital

      By TOM MALITI, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 2
      minutes ago

      NAIROBI, Kenya - Hundreds of rebels penetrated the
      capital of Chad on Saturday, clashing with government
      troops and moving on the presidential palace after a
      three-day advance through the oil-producing central
      African nation, officials and witnesses said.

      Col. Thierry Burkhard, a French military spokesman,
      said groups of rebels gathered outside the capital,
      N'Djamena, overnight before 1,000 to 1,500 fighters
      entered early Saturday and spread through the city.

      A leader of Chad's main opposition alliance, which is
      unarmed and not associated with the rebels, said
      shooting erupted after rebels entered the city around
      8 a.m. but appeared to die down about two hours later.
      Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh said about 12:45 p.m. that
      there were no soldiers in his neighborhood and state
      radio had gone off the air.

      "At the moment we are not hearing any firing ... The
      rebels are in the city. Civilians are in the streets.
      They are watching what is happening," said Saleh.

      The renewed fighting has led the European Union to
      delay its peacekeeping mission in both Chad and
      neighboring Central African Republic, which was due to
      be up and running early next month, said Commandant
      Dan Harvey, speaking at the EU military headquarters
      in Paris on Friday. The deployment of the advance
      force could be postponed for days, he said.

      The force already has met repeated delays. It is aimed
      at protecting refugees from the conflict-wracked
      Sudanese region of Darfur, which borders Chad, as well
      as protecting Chadians and Central Africans displaced
      by turmoil in their own countries.

      The new head of the African Union said Saturday that
      the bloc would not recognize Chadian rebels should
      they seize power.

      "If the rebellion succeeds, certainly we will
      excommunicate them from the African Union until
      normalcy and democratic institutions are restored in
      that country, if it has to happen that way at all,"
      Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete told a news

      The United Nations decided to temporarily evacuate all
      its staff from Chad's capital because of the fighting,
      said William Spindler, spokesman for the U.N. High
      Commissioner for Refugees.

      The French and American governments told their
      citizens to assemble in secure locations.

      The U.S. Embassy said in a bulletin on its Web site
      that any American citizens seeking evacuation should
      immediately move to the embassy. State Department
      spokesman Karl Duckworth said the embassy had
      authorized the departure of nonessential personnel and
      family members.

      "At this time the U.S. is monitoring the security
      situation closely," Duckworth said in a statement.
      "The serious violence that has occurred has not been
      directed at any U.S. personnel or facilities. We are
      taking all appropriate precautions to ensure the
      security of U.S. mission personnel and all American
      citizens in Chad."

      France's embassy in Chad sent messages over Radio
      France Internationale telling citizens to head to the
      Lycee Francais high school and two other locations in
      N'Djamena, a French diplomatic official said on
      condition of anonymity because government policy
      barred him from providing his name.

      A hotel operator at the Hotel le Meridien, about a
      mile from the headquarters of President Idriss Deby,
      said gunfire and explosions had been resounding
      through the capital since 7 a.m.

      The man, who would not give his name, said he had not
      seen any rebels. The line went dead before a reporter
      could get more details. Other phone lines were also
      dead and the information could not immediately be

      Rebels in more than a dozen vehicles drove past the
      Libya Hotel, which overlooks the parliament building,
      said a man who answered the telephone at that hotel.

      "I saw more than 15 vehicles and they (the rebels)
      were firing into the air," said the man, who also
      would not give his name.

      He said he also watched looters go into a police
      station opposite the hotel, stealing chairs and
      throwing papers on the ground.

      Rebel forces have been advancing on the capital for
      three days in about 250 pickup trucks after crossing
      the border from Sudan, some 510 miles to the east of

      Clashes broke out Friday morning near Massakori,
      northeast of N'Djamena, and moved closer to the
      capital to Massaguet, said Burkhard, the French
      military spokesman. France-Info radio said helicopters
      bombarded rebel positions.

      Chad, a French colony until 1960, has been convulsed
      by civil wars and invasions since independence, and
      the recent discovery of oil has only increased the
      intensity of the struggle for power in the largely
      desert country.

      The most recent series of rebellions began in 2005 in
      the country's east, occurring at the same time as the
      conflict in neighboring Sudan's western region of
      Darfur saw a rise in violence. One Chadian rebel group
      launched a failed assault on N'Djamena, in April 2006.

      The governments of Chad and Sudan repeatedly exchange
      accusations the one is backing the other's rebel

      Deby himself came to power at the head of a rebellion
      in 1990; he has won elections since, but none of the
      votes were deemed free or fair. He brought a semblance
      of peace after three decades of civil war and an
      invasion by Libya, but became increasingly isolated
      and members of his own family have joined Chad's
      latest rebellion.

      U.N. officials estimate that around 3 million people
      have been uprooted by conflicts in the region,
      including the fighting in western Sudan's Darfur
      region and rebellions in Central African Republic.

      France sent more troops late Thursday to boost a
      longtime military presence in Chad. About 1,500 French
      citizens live in Chad, most in N'Djamena. French
      President Nicolas Sarkozy called a meeting at the
      Elysee Palace in Paris late Friday to discuss the
      situation in Chad, his office said.

      Air France canceled its scheduled daily flight to
      N'Djamena on Friday because its personnel there "had
      no access to the airport," an airline spokesman said.
      The spokesman said it was not clear why access to the
      airport was blocked.


      Associated Press writers Angela Doland in Paris, Anita
      Powell in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Alexander G.
      Higgins in Geneva contributed to this report.

      (This version CORRECTS Corrects Spindler's title to
      spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees sted
      Human Rights; minor edits throughout.)
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.