Page last updated at 21:14 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 22:14 UK

Chad claims victory in rebellion

General Hassan Al Gadam Al Jinedi of the Chad army raises his fist in victory on 8 May in the area of Am Dam
A Chadian army general and his troops celebrate after fierce clashes

Chad has won a "decisive victory" over rebels in the east of the country, Defence Minister Adoum Younousmi said after two days of fierce fighting.

Officials say 220 rebels were killed and 120 captured. Twenty-one soldiers are also reported killed. There is no independent confirmation of the claims.

The rebels have been trying to topple Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Chad's government accuses Sudan of sending armed rebels over the border from Darfur, a claim Khartoum rejects.

'Mopping up'

"It is a decisive victory," Mr Younousmi told AFP news agency. "We are continuing our mopping-up operations as far as the [Sudanese] border. With the deployment in place, few can escape."

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The Chadian military says more than 100 rebel vehicles were destroyed in a battle on Thursday near the eastern town of Am Dam.

The government says it has killed more than 200 of the fighters, although our correspondent says she only saw about 50 corpses around the remains of burnt-out rebel vehicles.

The defence minister says it will take two to three years for the rebels from the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) to reconstitute themselves.

Skirmishes are continuing between the Chadian army and rebels, despite the government's claims that Am Dam has been completely secured, the BBC's Celeste Hicks reports from the region.

Captured leader

Hamouda Beki, the rebellion's deputy military commander, was among those captured during the offensive.

Chad soldiers guard rebel prisoners near Am Dam, 8 May
The army says it has captured around 120 rebel fighters

As he was being taken in for questioning, he told the BBC the rebels would continue their offensive.

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

On Friday, the UN Security Council called for a halt to the fighting, saying "any attempt at destabilization of Chad by force is unacceptable".

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.

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

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