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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 16:41 GMT
Chad president 'in total control'
President Deby
President Deby was dressed in full military uniform
Chad's president has appeared in public for the first time since an attempted coup, saying the government had successfully repulsed the rebels.

"We are in total control, not only of the capital, but of all the country," Idriss Deby told reporters from the presidential palace in the capital.

In N'Djamena, dead bodies left on the streets since rebels fled on Sunday, are being collected by aid workers.

Meanwhile, the French defence minister is on a visit to show his support.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in N'Djamena says the army and French soldiers can be seen patrolling the streets.

Our reporter says attack helicopters can be heard taking off to go and bomb rebel positions outside the city.

He says thanks to intelligence and logistics provided by the French military they will be hunting for the rebel's 200 pick-up trucks which withdrew after the heavy battles over the weekend.

Although the former French colony has a history of coups, last week's fighting was the most violent in decades.

Tension

Our correspondent says Mr Deby was dressed in full military uniform when he called the attackers "mercenaries" and accused Sudan of behind the coup bid.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin looks through the barrel of a gun in Chad
France has strongly upheld its commitment regarding the aggression
President Idriss Deby

Khartoum has previously denied accusations that it backs Chadian rebels by allowing them bases in its border region of Darfur.

Mr Deby said he believed most of the attackers had fled the capital.

"We're at their heels and we shall catch them before they get back to Sudan," he said.

He thanked France, which has a military agreement with Chad to provide logistical, medical and training aid, for its support during the crisis.

"France did not fail in its commitments. France has strongly upheld its commitment regarding the aggression," Mr Deby said.

During his visit, French Defence Minister Herve Morin has reiterated that France would support the legitimate Chadian government.

Our correspondent says Mr Deby hinted that if asked by France he might be prepared to pardon those jailed over last year's child kidnapping scandal involving French charity Zoe's Ark.

Six French aid workers are serving their jail term in France. A Chadian and Sudanese national are in prison in Chad.

Looting

Meanwhile, the authorities hope that residents who fled the capital will consider returning home - despite the widespread destruction during the fighting.

Map of Chad, Sudan and Darfur, showing Adre

"I'm going home because the situation seems to have stabilised. We heard it on the radio that's why we are going back home to see the situation," Chadian Issara Hassan said across the river in Cameroon where more than 20,000 people have taken refuge.

But for aid agencies coping with the humanitarian fallout, widespread looting in the capital has made the situation difficult.

"Half of the UN offices in N'Djamena were looted. This problem will have consequences and implications on our humanitarian programmes," UN spokesperson Elizabeth Brys said.

Meanwhile, the aid agency Save The Children has called for the establishment of an emergency air corridor to eastern Chad where half a million refugees from Sudan and war-displaced Chadians rely on aid.

A French-dominated European Union peacekeeping force had been due to start deploying to eastern Chad last week to give the refugees and aid workers there a measure of protection.



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