Home | News    Tuesday 10 April 2007

Sudan repels Chad soldiers pursuing rebels across border

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April 9, 2007 (N’DJAMENA) — The Chadian army was beaten back by Sudanese forces Monday evening after it crossed the border in pursuit of rebels following a day of heavy fighting with the insurgents in Chad, a Chadian official said.

Some thirty fighters on both sides were killed in the clash before the Chadian soldiers retreated back to their side of the border, a senior Chadian official requesting anonymity told AFP.

A Sudanese army spokesman meanwhile told the country’s official news agency Suna that Sudanese troops had suffered 17 casualties and 40 injuries in the fighting.

The cross-border skirmish came after deadly battles between the Chadian army and rebels earlier in the day in eastern Chad.

At least eight government soldiers and "many" rebels were killed in the clashes, said spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor in a statement.

Rebel group the Chadian National Concord (CNT) meanwhile issued a statement Monday evening acknowledging that 10 of its fighters had been killed in the battle, which "lasted six hours" and caused the army "considerable human and material losses.

The fighting came less than a week after government forces bombed rebel positions in the east of the country, where unrest has taken off again following a relative calm since February.

"A column of more than 200 vehicles with armed elements attacked a defence and security forces position this morning at Amdjerima," Doumgor said.

"The defence and security forces fought back with determination to rout the attackers, who as usual had come from Sudan. The search goes on," the spokesman added.

He said that 38 rebel vehicles had been destroyed.

Chadian authorities said the rebels were from the Union for Forces of Democracy and Development of Mahamat Nouri, the Rally for Democratic Forces, which is led by brothers Tom and Timan Erdimi and Hassan Saleh al-Djinedi’s CNT.

A spokesman for the rebel alliance, reached by satellite telephone, confirmed the clash, while saying that it was government forces that attacked and denying a rout.

"There was fighting between government forces and men of the CNT, but it’s over and the CNT is still in control of the area," Maide Id Moura told AFP.

In its statement Monday evening, CNT said "our forces have been redeployed to new positions."

The CNT last week accused the army of attacking its positions 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the Sudanese border with helicopter gunships.

The previous weekend, clashes between local groups in the east resulted in more than 100 deaths, provoking intervention from Chad’s army.

Chad’s government accused Sudan’s government-backed Janjaweed militia of involvement in those attacks, but that could not be confirmed.

Chad and Sudan blame each other for supporting rebels in their respective countries. Both have refused the deployment of a UN-mandated force to patrol their border.

"Sudan has not abandoned its sinister project of destabilising Chad," the government said Monday, calling on the population "to rally more than ever behind the defence and security forces to preserve their democratic gains, and guarantee sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The government statement added that N’Djamena "expects the international community to condemn unequivocally this aggression against Chad from inside Sudan and take appropriate measures to force the Sudanese government to abandon its expansionist and destabilising aims in Chad."

(AFP)

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