- Rebels in Chad have taken control of the third town of Biltine in the past two days and plan to advance onto capital N’djamena, with the aim of ousting President Idriss Deby.
Chad government has however not confirmed the fall of the town. It described a prior claim of rebel advance as “rebel propaganda”.
The government nonetheless accepted over the weekend that rebels were only trying to drag out national troops out of their strongholds.
"We are completely calm. The army is continuing to follow its plan," Information Minister Mahamat Hissene was quoted as saying.
The rebels confidently noted today that their onslaught in Biltine received little challenge. They explained that theirs was to hold the captured towns temporarily, including Goz Beida en route to Am Dam. They are also reported to have said that they were having more people coming over to their side.
The town of Biltine is located about 90 km north of Abeche, a hub for international aid workers in eastern Chad.
UN staff as well as troops from former colonial power France and a European Union protection force are stationed in Abeche.
Rebels reached President Idriss Deby's palace in February before they were driven off by national troops. The President has been ruling the oil producing country since 1990, when he seized power.
It was reportedly calm in N’djamena today, though residents were worried about fresh rebel invasion. However, it was business as usual as government offices, markets and other businesses were still operational.
A resident was quoted in international media reports a saying they were worried about their security. “In February, we were told nothing was going to happen and the next thing we knew the rebels arrived,” said the resident.
A group of rebels briefly occupied the town of Goz-Beida, more than 200km south of Abeche on Saturday, moving on next day to occupy Am-Dam.
Reports show that an appeal has been made to foreign humanitarian agencies to remain in Chad, in spite of the violence, to help millions of Sudanese refugees and Chadians displaced by the on-going fighting. Several peace accords signed by both countries over the past years have been in vain.
IN a new development, Sudan has blamed Chad for an attack made last month on Sudanese capital of Khartoum. Chad government denied responsibility of attack.
United Nations (UN) has accused Sudan and Chad of using their respective rebels to attack one another, in a bloody fight that seems to have lost a meaning.
UN has warned its staff to be ready to evacuate Chad. According to a statement made to personnel, the organ has cancelled all its missions to the country until further notice.
There are nearly 80,000 displaced Chadians and some 36,000 from Sudanese Darfur region, living in camps around Goz-Beiba.
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