Chad says 105 rebels killed in battle on Sudanese border

 

CHAD’S GOVERNMENT says its army killed 105 rebels during two gun battles on the Sudan-Chad border this week, just days after the UN agreed to reduce its peacekeeping force in the country.

The fighting, on April 24th and April 28th, claimed “105 lives and led to 62 rebels taken captive”, said communications minister Kedellah Younous. Those captured were members of Front Populaire pour la Renaissance Nationale (FPRN), a rebel group opposed to the presidency of Idriss Déby.

Nine government soldiers were killed during the attacks, Mr Younous said, adding that Chadian security forces now “completely control the entire zone”.

“This is very doubtful,” said Roland Marchal, a research fellow at the centre for International Studies and Research at Sciences Po in Paris, “but the rebels are now scattered near the three borders area with no basic equipment or logistics to get to the capital N’Djamena. It is easier for them to stay near the [refugee] camps as they are not in a position to be very aggressive.”

The FPNR is based in Chad, but other anti-Déby forces have launched assaults on the country from Darfur in Sudan.

The renewed violence comes as Amnesty International warned this week of a “potential nightmare scenario” in eastern Chad, where more than 500,000 people live under the protection of an under-strength UN force of 3,500 troops.

Last week, the Chadian government and the UN agreed to wind down the number of UN peacekeepers in Chad to 1,900, which Amnesty says could have knock-on effects in Darfur and elsewhere.

Justin Moran, a spokesman for Amnesty International Ireland, said:“The UN have managed to extend the mission until October, but it is with a reduced force and there is no mandate for the protection of civilians.”

A local police force, Détachement Integré de Sécurité (DIS), will be charged to protect civilians in the UN’s absence, “but we had a report out on Darfur last year in which refugees said the DIS were not protecting them. It [DIS] finds it difficult to protect itself, never mind the camps,” Mr Moran said.

This week’s violence was the first between government forces and insurgents since Chad and Sudan agreed to stop supporting rebels in each other’s country in February. Mr Déby had congratulated Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir on a “brilliant” election, and said the result would improve ties between the states.