Page last updated at 23:15 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 00:15 UK

UN condemns rebel attacks in Chad

Chadian troops. File photo
The outcome of the recent fighting could not be verified independently

The United Nations Security Council has condemned an offensive by armed groups battling the Chadian government in the east of the country.

It urged the rebels to stop fighting, saying "any attempt at destabilization of Chad by force is unacceptable".

Members also voiced concern at what it called external support for the rebels.

Chad says nearly 250 have been killed in the last two days of fighting between its army and rebels from the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR).

The Security Council's statement expressed "concern at the external support received by Chadian armed groups".

The council did not specifically accused neighbouring Sudan of backing the rebels but it pointed the finger at Khartoum, the BBC's Laura Trevelyan says.

Chad accuses Sudan of backing the rebels over the border from Darfur. Khartoum rejects the allegation.

The council also urged the warring parties to respect the Doha peace agreement signed earlier this week.

Refugee concerns

Earlier on Friday, Chad's Communications Minister Mahamat Hissene said 225 rebels from the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) had been killed in the last two days of fighting near the eastern town of Am Dam, the AFP news agency reported.

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He said 22 soldiers had also died. The UDF said "several dozen" troops had been killed.

So far there has been no independent confirmation of either claims.

Aid agencies in the region have warned that a number of people in refugee camps could die if the violence continues.

Am Dam is 110km (68 miles) north of Goz Beida and more than 100km (62 miles) south of Abeche, the two towns used as bases by most relief agencies working in Chad to help 450,000 refugees and displaced people.

The UFR, which was formed in January, says its ultimate goal is to reach the Chadian capital, N'Djamena.

Rebels have been trying to topple President Idriss Deby for more than three years.

The government said earlier this week it had repelled a rebel "invasion", bombing rebel forces after they moved in from the border with Sudan.

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