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Chad says rebels attack second eastern town

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Oct 24, 2006 (N’DJAMENA) — A newly formed rebel group has attacked a second town in eastern Chad a day after briefly seizing a settlement near the border with Sudan, the central African country’s government said on Tuesday.

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Chadian soldiers take a break in the eastern village of Koukou, down the road from one of the 12 camps for Darfur refugees, in Chad April 19, 2006. (Reuters)

Armed men attacked Am Timan on Monday afternoon, 24 hours after taking the town of Goz Beida and then being repelled by government forces, Communication Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said.

"The security forces are following the movements of these adventurers, whose objective is simply to show their presence on the ground and take advantage of the fact that the towns they have besieged do not have any significant military presence," he said.

The insurgents, calling themselves the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) — the latest in a string of titles grouping various rebel factions — have said they want polls to end the rule of President Idriss Deby.

Chadian rebels attacked the capital N’Djamena in April in a lightning assault launched from the east, racing across the desert in pick-up trucks from the Sudan border region three weeks before an election which returned Deby for a third term.

Several hundred people were killed in the attack on the capital before government forces defeated the insurgents.

The government called on the population of Africa’s fifth-largest country — twice the size of former colonial power France — to remain calm.

"These adventurers stand no chance against the determination of the Chadian armed forces, who are ready to give them the same welcome they received in April," Doumgor said.

Fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region, which has killed tens of thousands of people since 2003 and displaced more than two million, has often spilled over into Chad and Deby’s government has repeatedly accused Khartoum of backing the rebels.

But since the April attack on N’Djamena, the rebel coalition has splintered along rival ethnic and political lines. Recent clashes along the border region with Darfur have involved separate rebel groups rather than one united front.

Janjaweed militia fighters, who are assisting the Sudanese army in Darfur against Sudanese rebels, have also been responsible for cross-border raids into Chad and appear to be working in alliance with the Chadian rebels, aid workers say.

(Reuters)

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