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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 08:35 GMT
Chad rebels 'pushed from capital'
Car and French tank in aftermath of fighting in N'Djamena, Chad
Witnesses reported heavy fighting in the capital on Sunday
Rebels seeking to overthrow Chad's president have been driven out of the capital, the government has said.

The rebels say they have made a strategic withdrawal to the eastern edge of N'Djamena, after entering the city over the weekend.

Aid workers say dead bodies litter the streets, while thousands of people are fleeing the city.

The European Union has decided to delay the deployment of its peacekeeping force to Chad because of the unrest.

N'Djamena is separated from Cameroon by a bridge over the Logone-Chari river.

Thousands of people were streaming over the bridge, UNHCR spokeswoman Helene Caux told the AFP news agency.

The UN called an emergency meeting in New York to discuss the crisis and will meet again on Monday.

CHAD TIMELINE
June 2005 - Constitutional changes approved allowing president to stand for third term
April 2006 - Hundreds killed as rebels fight government troops on outskirts of N'Djamena
May 2006 - President Deby wins election boycotted by opposition
January 2008 - EU approves peacekeeping force to protect Darfur refugees from violence in Chad

Before the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a ceasefire.

A statement from his office expressed concern at the "serious humanitarian situation of some 285,000 refugees and 180,000 internally displaced persons, as well as host communities, in eastern Chad".

The Chadian government said it had quashed the rebellion.

"The whole of N'Djamena is under control and these mercenaries in the pay of Sudan have been scattered," Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir told French radio RFI.

But rebel leaders said they were giving civilians a chance to flee before launching another offensive.

In eastern Chad, the army said it had thwarted a second rebel attack on the town of Adre, near the border with Sudan.

Darfur fears

The area is home to some 400,000 people displaced as a result of the conflict in Darfur are living in camps.

Adre is in the area where a French-dominated EU peacekeeping force is due to deploy to protect displaced civilians and the aid workers supporting them.

map

Chadian officials have accused the rebels of seeking to stop the deployment of the EU force.

The government claimed the assault on the town had been backed by Sudanese aircraft.

Chad's Minister for Mines and Energy, General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour, called the attack a "declaration of war" by Sudan.

"Sudan does not want this force because it would open a window on the genocide in Darfur," said Foreign Minister Amad Allam-Mi.

Sudan has repeatedly denied any involvement.

"Any developments in Chad reflect on Sudan and any instability there would have a negative impact on Sudan," said Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadeq.

Looters

Chadian rebels seized control of large parts of the capital on Saturday, approaching the palace where President Idriss Deby was holding out.

On Sunday, fierce fighting in the capital continued. Rebels were reported to have stormed the national radio offices before looters ransacked the building.

N'Djamena's main market was also looted and torched after being hit by a missile, witnesses told AFP news agency.

THE REBEL COALITION
Unified Military Command includes:
Union of Forces for Democracy (UFDD) led by Mahamat Nouri
Rally of Forces for Change (RFC) led by Timane Erdimi
UFDD-Fundamental led by Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye

Hundreds of foreigners, many of them French, have been evacuated to Gabon in central Africa.

France has a long-term military presence in Chad, one of its former colonies, giving the government intelligence and logistic support.

This has led the rebels to threaten to attack the EU peacekeeping force.

China, a major investor in Chad's growing oil industry, also evacuated 210 of its citizens and two Taiwanese, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Deby seized power in a coup in 1990, but has won three elections since then, although their legitimacy has been challenged.


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VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Amateur footage of the unrest in Chad



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