Home | News    Wednesday 22 March 2006

Chadian capital deserted after shooting near presidential palace

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Mar 22, 2006 (NDJAMENA) — Schools, businesses and offices were deserted in the Chadian capital, N’djamena, Wednesday after shooting near the presidential palace sent people fleeing.

Gunfire heard between 10.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Wednesday near the presidential palace prompted people to flee workplaces and pull their children from schools, one Chadian said from home after quitting his office.

"The shooting caused panic. Everyone thought it was a coup," he said.

But the government swiftly put out a statement acknowledging only a minor incident over "a misunderstanding related to salaries" and said that the entire country "is under the control of the government security and armed forces."

The statement said all has returned to calm, "contrary to tendentious and alarmist rumours spreading about the trouble seen this morning in the capital." The government appealed to citizens to stay calm and return to their normal activities.

The events come amid heavy anxiety in Chad, where on Monday government forces attacked a rebel post in the east and days earlier the government announced it thwarted a coup plot against President Idriss Deby.

Deby is currently in eastern Chad, not far from the site where the government went after rebels this week.

"The incident of this morning has nothing to do with the national army’s offensive in eastern Chad," the statement said.

Deby is set to run in presidential elections scheduled for 3 May, but a swelling rebel movement has vowed to put him down by means other than the ballot box.

The N’djamena resident said tensions are mounting ahead of the crunch poll, "The closer we come to the date, the higher the tension."

(IRIN)

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