Page last updated at 21:07 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 22:07 UK

Chadian rebels launch town attack

Chadian rebels (file image)
Chadian rebels have threatened to advance on the country's capital

Anti-government rebels in Chad have launched an attack on the town of Goz Beida, near the border with Sudan.

The United Nations reported fighting in the town, which is home to 15,000 Darfur refugees.

Irish EU peacekeepers returned fire after coming under attack in the town, which rebels captured briefly.

A rebel leader said they would advance to the capital N'Djamena. A Chadian minister said government forces were preparing to defend the city.

The rebels reportedly launched an offensive in the east of the country on Wednesday.

Chadian Communication Minister Mahamat Hissene said the rebels were being armed and organised by Sudan, and the army would succeed in "pushing them out of our territory".

Rebel leader Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye said they were intent on taking N'Djamena by Sunday.

They claim to have twice as many vehicles and men as when they attacked the capital in February.

The insurgents had sought to overthrow President Idriss Deby and they managed to reach his palace before being repelled.

Proxy war

The latest fighting in Goz Beida, which is 75km (46 miles) from the Sudanese border, was reported to be fierce.

Rebel columns of between 80 and 100 trucks were seen racing towards Goz Beida, according to news agency Reuters.

Medical workers reported that at least 24 people were injured in the attack.

Goz Beida is surrounded by UN-run camps housing thousands of refugees who have fled the conflict-ridden Darfur region of Sudan.


Irish members of an European Union protection force (Eufor) in eastern Chad had taken up position outside one of the refugee camps.

They were monitoring fighting between the Chadian army and rebels when they came under fire.

"It is not clear who fired upon our troops... There are no Irish casualties and all vehicles are operational," said Commandant Gavin Young, spokesman for the Irish forces in Chad.

"Irish troops briefly returned warning fire from their armoured vehicles."

He added that the situation in Goz Beida was now "calm but tense".

The UN has said Sudan and Chad are fighting a proxy war through each other's rebel groups.

Chad closed its border with Sudan last month and suspended economic ties.

That came after Sudan cut diplomatic relations with Chad following an attack by Darfur rebels near the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Sudan accuses Chad of backing rebels in Darfur - charges denied by Chad.

The two countries have signed numerous peace deals but these have never held.

Country profile: Chad
01 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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