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Chad rebels deny coup attempt link


March 16, 2006 (NAIROBI) — A Chadian rebel representative denied alleged links to what Chad’s government says was a presidential assassination attempt, but vowed Thursday to take over the central African country soon.

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Chadian rebels, former soldiers who have deserted, stand in a small camp on the Sudan-Chad border on Feb 10, 2006.

Chadian President Idriss Deby held crisis meetings with key government officials all day Thursday, a day after his government reported the assassination attempt, officials said.

Chadian Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said in a statement Wednesday a group of soldiers had planned to shoot down the plane carrying Deby back from an official visit to Equatorial Guinea Tuesday. Their plot was foiled by soldiers and police loyal to the president, Doumgor said.

He added among those who planned the attempt were Tom and Timan Erdimi, nephews of Deby. Until joining a rebellion that has been brewing since October, the Erdimi brothers had worked in the president’s office supervising the country’s oil program.

Mohamed Abdi Shakur, a representative of the rebel United Front for Democratic Change group, told The AP his group wasn’t involved in the coup attempt. Shakur’s alliance includes a rebel group the Erdimi brothers helped form.

Shakur, who spoke on a satellite phone but declined to say where he was, repeated declarations his group has been making since December that within weeks it will be in control of Chad.

Doumgor had said coup plotters fled in seven vehicles, two of which soldiers loyal to the president intercepted and "neutralized." It wasn’t clear whether rebels in the vehicles were killed or arrested.

The communications minister said the government captured two of the seven leaders of the coup attempt - Col. Eggrey Mahamat and Maj. Ali Anour - and investigations were continuing.

Since October, scores of defectors from the Chadian army have joined a number of rebel groups based in the area bordering Sudan’s western region of Darfur, the site of an uprising by Sudanese groups. Darfur is seen as having the potential to spark unrest across the region.

Rights groups have said Chadian and Sudanese militias in Darfur have launched frequent cross-border raids, killing Chadian civilians. Sudan has accused Chad of harboring Darfur rebels, while Chad has said Sudan backs Chadian insurgents.

Chad has issued international arrest warrants for coup suspects it said it believes were in Sudan and in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and the U.S.

Deby seized power in 1990 after launching a rebellion from bases in Darfur.


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