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Monday, November 27, 2006


Troops fortify positions in Chad capital.

N'DJAMENA, Chad (AP) -- Heavily armed Chadian soldiers began reinforcing their positions in the capital, N'djamena, Monday amid fears of a fresh rebel attack on the city.

Troops were positioned throughout the capital, cordoning off key government buildings and supported by at least a dozen tanks guarding the main entrances to the city. Schools have been closed and residents of N'djamena have been panic buying in markets and shops.

At dawn a French Mirage fighter jet conducted low-level reconnaissance flights over the capital and surrounding areas.

On Sunday government troops set up roadblocks in Lamadji, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the capital, and were searching cars and fighting-age men.

The Forces for Democracy and Development, known by the French acronym UFDD, is a union of several rebel groups opposed to President Idriss Deby, who first took power at the head of his own rebel army in 1990. The group has had sporadic clashes with the government since 2005 and launched a failed attack on the capital in April.

The competition for power has become more intense since Chad began exporting oil in 2004. The rebels have been able to exploit volatility in neighboring Sudan, establishing rear bases in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, which borders eastern Chad.

Both France and Britain have issued warnings of reports of rebel forces heading toward the capital, urging against all travel to Chad. The Chadian government has denied rebels were about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the capital and said they were no longer advancing.

On Saturday, rebels launched an attack and claimed to have seized Abeche, the largest city in the country's east, but pulled out Sunday before government troops arrived.

Abeche, 550 miles (885 kilometers) east of the capital, is the base for dozens of aid organizations looking after 200,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur and 50,000 displaced Chadians. The U.N. refugee chief said the violence is threatening aid delivery.

In addition to the rebellion, Chad's government has in recent weeks reporting violence pitting ethnic Arab Chadians against ethnic African Chadians, mirroring ethnic clashes in Darfur. Chad accused Sudan of instigating the clashes. Chad often accuses Sudan of supporting Chadian rebels and Sudan makes a similar accusation against Chad.

In Darfur, ethnic African tribes accusing the central government of neglect launched a rebellion three years ago, following years of low-level tribal clashes over land and water. The government is accused of responding by unleashing ethnic Arab tribal militias who have been linked to atrocities.

More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since fighting began in Darfur in early 2003.

Chad, an impoverished country in central Africa, has suffered from years of political turmoil that have hampered economic development. The country relies on livestock and a relatively new oil industry to keep the economy going.

Re-posted from CNN because they always move their links so as not for my readers to read their articles. Shame on them!

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