American aid worker Katie-Jay Scott, who is staying at a hotel in the centre of Chad's capital, N'Djamena, told BBC News of the fear that has gripped the city amid fierce gun battles between rebels and government troops.
Katie-Jay Scott has been advised to stay put by the US embassy
The French military came at 0700 this morning and told us to stay inside the hotel.
From the third-floor we can see smoke coming from around the presidential palace about a kilometre-and-a-half away.
We hear gunfire and artillery and large explosions that shake the windows of the hotel.
It will be eerily quiet and then suddenly the gunfire starts up again.
We run to the back of the hotel, or the front, depending on where the shooting is coming from.
The French put snipers on the hotel roof, shut the main gates and make patrols of the hotel grounds.
I guess the main danger is from a stray bullet but I don't think the rebels are interested in this hotel.
Katie-Jay Scott saw smoke coming from near the presidential palace (photo courtesy of Stop Genocide Now website)
They want to seize the main government buildings. It seems like there's a revolution going on.
The US embassy is instructing us to stay put and says we'll only evacuate if the French evacuate.
Some World Bank staff and people in World Food Programme vehicles were evacuated this morning.
'A completely different city'
When we got here a couple of days ago the streets were noisy and crowded with traffic and young people selling cell phone cards.
But since yesterday the streets have been completely empty, everyone was too scared to leave home as they knew the rebels were nearby. There's not a civilian on the street. It's a completely different city.
The mobile phone networks have all been shut down for a couple of days now.
Yesterday there were lots of helicopters and military planes in the skies above N'Djamena but there's none today.
We can just hear military vehicles, sounds like trucks and tanks rushing past.