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Chad military kills 300 rebels after attempted incursion

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The Chadian Army said its military killed 300 rebels who waged a major incursion into the Northern part of the country, adding that it also lost five of its soldiers in the exchange of gunfire with the insurgents.

In a statement on Tuesday by the army spokesman, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, the heavily armed rebel group launched a raid from its rear base in Libya on April 11, the same day Chad’s presidential election was taking place.

The raid, according to Agouna, which was coordinated by a rebel group known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), saw “more than 300 rebels neutralised and claimed the lives of five martyrs or government troops.”

He added that 36 soldiers were wounded in the fighting while 150 rebels were captured alive, including three senior officials.

The government also said that the rebel offensive in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was over.

Following the death of Chadian President Idris Deby on Tuesday in a battle with insurgents, the country’s military has taken over power and announced Deby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, as the new leader of the country.

The army had earlier announced Deby’s death on the battlefield after over three decades in power on state television.

The shocking announcement came after the 68-year-old was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office.

The army said Deby had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.

“President Idris Deby has just breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield,” army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement.

Deby had ruled Chad with an iron fist for three decades but was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

On Monday, the army had claimed they secured a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, saying it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

Deby would have been one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, after provisional results showed him winning the April 11 election.

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His latest election victory, with almost 80 per cent of the vote, had never been in doubt, with a divided opposition, boycott calls, and a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.

Deby had campaigned on a promise of bringing peace and security to the region, but his pledges were undermined by the rebel incursion.

The rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya.

The group has a non-aggression pact with Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who controls much of Libya’s east.

FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, said in a statement Sunday that it had “liberated” the Kanem region though such claims in remote desert combat zones have been difficult to verify.

The government had sought to assure concerned residents that the offensive was over.

There had been panic in some areas of N’Djamena on Monday after tanks were deployed along the city’s main roads.

The tanks were later withdrawn apart from a perimeter around the president’s office, which is under heavy security during normal times.

“The establishment of a security deployment in certain areas of the capital seems to have been misunderstood,” government spokesman Cherif Mahamat Zene had said on Twitter on Monday.

However, the US embassy in N’Djamena had on Saturday ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in the capital while Britain also urged its nationals to leave.

France’s embassy said in an advisory to its nationals in Chad that the deployment was a precaution and there was no specific threat to the capital.

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