Home | News    Monday 19 December 2005

Chadian army deserters retreat to Sudan after attack

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Dec 19, 2005 (EL-GENEINA) — Chadian army deserters who launched a failed offensive on a military base on Sunday have retreated over the border to Sudan’s remote west, Sudanese rebels said on Monday.

A group of Chadian army deserters launched an attack on the border town of Adre on Sunday, but were repulsed after heavy fighting claiming around 100 lives, the Chadian government said, holding Sudan responsible.

The clashes raised tensions in Sudan’s Darfur region, where Sudanese rebels have been fighting the central government for almost three years. No fighting was reported in Adre on Monday.

A commander in the Darfur rebel National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), which controls areas along the border with Chad, said his troops had witnessed the Chadian rebels retreat into Sudan on Sunday in cars.

"Some of them were moving in the direction of el-Geneina," said Hassan Khamis, NMRD commander, referring to the main town in Darfur along the border.

Scores of Chadian soldiers deserted their barracks in late September before regrouping near the border, and the government has accused Sudan of using the deserters to fight rebels in Darfur and of backing Chadian rebel activities.

RESIGNATION DEMAND

The deserters, also accused of attacks on army bases in the capital N’Djamena, have demanded the resignation of Chad’s President Idriss Deby, who belongs to the Zaghawa tribe, which spans both sides of the border and is one of the main Darfur rebel tribes.

A number of Darfur rebel commanders fought in the uprising which brought Deby to power, a revolt which was launched from Sudan’s remote west, a vast area the size of France.

Chad’s Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said on Sunday Chadian forces would chase the rebel elements over the frontier into Sudan if necessary.

A Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman denied any involvement in the Adre clashes and said it was not helpful for bilateral relations to exchange accusations through the media.

Sudanese army sources reported sporadic fighting in recent days, crossing over the long, porous border between the countries, but said the Sudanese army was not involved.

Both Darfuri rebels and aid workers in the region have reported large troop movements over the past two weeks near the border, with reports of Chadian troops patrolling on the Sudanese side of the border.

(Reuters)

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