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Chad protests to Sudan over attacks on Chadian civilians by a militia group it claims is backed by Sudan

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By ABAKAR SALEH Associated Press Writer

N’DJAMENA, Chad, Nov 19, 2003 (AP) — The government has protested to neighboring Sudan over attacks on Chadian civilians by a Sudanese militia group it says is backed by the Sudanese government.

State-run Radio Chad reported Tuesday that Haroun Saleh, governor of Ouaddai prefecture which borders Sudan, complained to Sudanese consul general Khalid Abbas Hamid about cross-border attacks by the Sudanese People’s Army during which miltiamen stole 16 camels and drained 20,000 liters (5,000 gallons) of gasoline from a tanker truck that had crossed into Chad from Sudan.

It was not clear whether there were deaths or other casualties.

Since the beginning of the year, rebels demanding self-determination for the Darfur region in western Sudan near the Chad border have been fighting the militia and government troops, and thousands of Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad.

The rebels belong to the Zaghawa tribe whose members live on both sides of the border; Chadian President Idriss Deby is a Zaghawa as are most of his elite presidential guard.

Deby brokered a Sept. 4 cease-fire between the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Sudan government. It was extended for 30 days on Nov. 5. The SLA has demanded that the militia be disbanded.

The Sudanese rebels and government representatives are to meet for another round of peace talks on Dec. 4 in Abeche, the capital of Ouaddai about 140 kilometers (90 miles) west of the border.

U.N and U.S. officials estimate that at least 7,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands of others forced to flee their homes since fighting began in Darfur, home to nearly a fifth of Sudan’s 30 million people.

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