Home | News    Wednesday 8 November 2006

Chad says Darfur-linked violence kills over 100

Nov 7, 2006 (N’DJAMENA) — More than 100 people were killed in clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in southeast Chad last week, the government said on Tuesday, and it accused Arab militia raiders from Sudan of stirring up ethnic violence.

President Idriss Deby’s administration said the violence inside Chad once again underlined the need for U.N. peacekeepers to be sent to Sudan’s western Darfur region to stop the long-running conflict there from spilling over the border.

"The whole frontier is on fire," Chad’s Territorial Administration Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir told Reuters, speaking from Chad’s southeastern Salamat region where feuding communities fought each other with firearms and bows and arrows.

He said more than 100 people had been killed in the ethnic clashes last week which razed hundreds of homes and granaries.

"It’s the kind of death toll you get from a battle in a war," Bachir said. The government said fighting between Arabs and non-Arabs had also killed many in the Dar Sila department of neighbouring Ouaddai prefecture that borders Sudan.

Bachir said Chad’s mixed Arab and non-Arab communities in the east had managed to get along well enough in the past, unlike Sudan’s Darfur over the border where a raging political and ethnic conflict has killed tens of thousands since 2003.

But constant raids by Sudanese-backed Janjaweed Arab militias striking across the frontier into Chad were destroying this coexistence and stirring up fear and mistrust which was now boiling over into inter-communal conflict, Bachir said.

"The Janjaweed come every day," he said, referring to the feared Sudanese Arab militiamen mounted on camels and horses who have been blamed for a spate of recent attacks on civilians up and down the long and porous Sudan-Chad border.

The name Janjaweed loosely translates in Arabic as "devils on horseback".

"GENOCIDE"

Despite a series of public peace accords between N’Djamena and Khartoum, Chad accuses its neighbour Sudan of sending Janjaweed militia across the frontier and of arming and directing rebels seeking to overthrow President Deby.

Sudan’s government denies this but is resisting heavy international pressure to allow the United Nations to take over a struggling African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

Khartoum says a U.N. deployment in Darfur would be the equivalent of a Western invasion.

Chad’s government said conflict among its own mixed ethnic communities was "multiplying" along its eastern border.

"This is a genocide which is spreading from the Sudanese border of Darfur. The international community must react by deploying a U.N. peacekeeping force before it is too late," it said in a statement.

Hospital officials in southeast Salamat prefecture said tension between the non-Arab Kibede community and the Darsalim, an Arab group, had erupted into the deadly conflict last week.

"The conflict between the Kibede and Darsalim communities a few days ago has caused 139 deaths between one side and the other and several injured have been admitted to hospital," a hospital official at the regional capital Am Timan told Reuters.

A government commission headed by Bachir had been sent from N’Djamena to arrange a reconciliation between the chiefs of the two communities.

(Reuters)