Chad fighting intensifies - Chadian gov't forces and rebels are set for a showdown at the weekend
From Independent (Ireland) by Tom Brady, 08 May 2009:
Irish troops on full alert for Chad showdown
CHADIAN government forces and rebel troops are set for a showdown at the weekend -- about 100km from the Irish peacekeeping base.- - -
Irish troops remained on full alert last night to protect humanitarian aid workers in their area, but have not come into any contact with the advancing rebel soldiers.
It now appears the rebels have diverted away from the Irish base at Goz Beida and are heading over 100 km north east to the town of Am Dam.
Intelligence sources last night indicated the rebels are expected to clash with Chadian government forces at the weekend and that both sides were now preparing for that inevitability.
The government forces are already installed in a post at Am Dam and reinforcements have been rushed there in the past 24 hours.
Intelligence sources said both sides were now engaged in a deadly game of tactical chess and their preparations for a confrontation were being hampered by the early onset of the rainy season in Chad.
Heavy rainfall has slowed down troop movements on the ground while it is also interfering with Chadian aerial efforts to pinpoint rebel positions as they move towards Am Dam.
On Wednesday afternoon the Irish troops evacuated almost 80 humanitarian aid workers and local security personnel from camps for refugees and internally displaced persons in their area of operations and over 30 of them spent the night with the troops in Camp Ciara.
Irish patrols continued in the Goz Beida area yesterday but did not catch sight of the rebels although the Chadian interior minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir claimed they were "swarming around this town".
He alleged that the rebels had been tracked down by the government forces and "dealt with" by their aircraft and that steps had been taken to ensure there was no rebel advance.
However, independent intelligence indicated the rebels had altered their path to avoid confrontation until they were ready.
The rebels have been attempting to topple President Idriss Deby for more than three years.
Chad airstrikes against rebels - Thousands flee CAR unrest
From Sapa-dpa via The Times.za 08 May 2009 -
Chad fighting intensifies:
Heavy fighting has broken out in the east of Chad despite government claims that it had repelled a rebel attack.
Both the government and the rebel Union of Resistance Forces claimed victory in the latest fighting, which took place near the town Am Dam.
Am Dam is located some 100 kilometres north of Goz Beida, where fighting earlier this week prompted foreign aid workers to be evacuated from refugee camps there.
Communications Minister Mahamat Hissene said that over 100 rebel troops and several of its own soldiers were killed in the latest battles that took place throughout Thursday, the BBC reported.
The UFR, which earlier said its goal was to reach the capital N’Djamena, claimed it had routed the army and was still en-route to the capital.
Chad on Tuesday accused Sudan of sending armed groups over the border just two days after the feuding countries signed a reconciliation agreement in Qatar.
Hissene told state radio that Sudan had sent in two armoured columns while the "ink has yet to dry on the Doha accord."
Sudan quickly denied the allegation.- - -
The two countries only resumed diplomatic ties in November after cutting them in May 2008. The neighbours have long accused each other of conducting proxy wars through rebel groups.
In May last year, Khartoum accused Chad of backing Darfuri insurgents who attacked the Sudanese capital. Chad countered by blaming Sudan for an earlier rebel attack on N’Djamena.
Chad and Sudan signed the agreement, brokered by Qatar and Libya, in Doha on Sunday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that the peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic, known as MINURCAT, would protect civilians.
Ban called on Sudan and Chad to resolve their differences by diplomatic means.
Oct 12, 2008 - Sudan Watch - United Resistance Front (URF) leader Bahar Idriss Abu Garda says his senior commander was killed in Janjaweed ambush east of Muhajiriya, South Darfur
Photo: Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, leader of JEM & SLM splinter group URF, in El Fasher North Darfur, W. Sudan (from Nov 2008 Sudan Watch archives)
Nov 20, 2008 - Sudan Watch - Joint chief mediator Djibril Bassolé meets Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, leader of JEM & SLM splinter group URF, in El Fasher N. Darfur, W. Sudan
Apr 24, 2009 - Sudan Watch - UFR threatens war to overthow Chad's government - UN mission in Chad needs boosting - RFC/UFR's Chadian leader Timan Erdimi sits in Darfur, W. Sudan plotting war against his Uncle, Chadian President Idriss Deby.
Photo: The Rally of Forces for Change (RFC) is led by Timan Erdimi (AFP/BBC/Apr 24, 2009 Sudan Watch)
Photo: Timan Erdimi leader de l’UFR: lire son interview accordée en arabe (Source: www.tribunecoum.com février 19, 2009 and Slide Show/Apr 24, 2009 Sudan Watch)
May 07, 2009 - Sudan Watch - UN moves staff as Chadian rebels advance - AFP report May 6, 2009
May 07, 2009 - Sudan Watch - 439-strong Irish contingent serving in Chad
May 07, 2009 - Sudan Watch - Chad says no need for French military aid for now
May 08, 2009 - China View - U.S. accuses Sudan of supporting Chadian rebels
WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) The United States condemns the cross-border attacks by Chadian rebels from neighboring Sudan, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.- - -
"The United States condemns the current attacks by Chadian rebels coming across the border from Sudan," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement.
"We call on the rebels to desist from all offensive operations, renounce violence and enter into negotiations with the government of Chad to re-enter Chadian society," he said.
"We also call on the government of Sudan to disarm and demobilize any Chadian rebels on its territory now or in the future and urge their return to Chad," the spokesman said.
Chad said earlier in the day that its army had killed more than100 rebels in the two-day clash in the country's eastern region south of Goz Beida.
Chad's government blasted Sudan for backing the rebels. But Sudan denied the accusation.
Chad and Sudan severed diplomatic ties in April 2006 and May 2008 amid escalations of tensions, in which they accused each other of supporting rebels. Editor: Chris
Photo: From left to right: Secretary of external affairs at the Darfur United Resistance Front (URF) Tag Al-Din Bashir; Leader of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) legacy faction Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur; Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) humanitarian coordinator Suleiman Jamous; Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim. Source: Sudan Watch March 04, 2009: Darfur rebels vow full ICC cooperation ahead of ruling on Bashir case
UPDATE: From Sudan Radio Service 07 May 2009 - (N’Djamena):
The Chadian government claims that they have evidence that proves Sudan’s support for Chadian anti-government groups.
In an interview with Sudan Radio Service from N’Djamena on Thursday, the Chadian Minister of Information, Mohamed Hussein, explains why Chad is accusing Khartoum of backing the groups.
[Mohamed Hussein]: "Before entering Chad, the rebel troops were in Sudan; Sudan is the one which provides training, weapons, vehicles and each and every thing to the rebels. We have intercepted information in one of the attacks where the Sudan chief of security and intelligence, Salah Gosh, was ordering and directing the rebels to invade the city at night. And we have recorded that, even the military leadership is involved in that. The attack is completely a Sudanese agenda.”
The Chadian anti-government forces, who advanced 150 kilometers inside Chadian territory, claimed that they are moving deeper towards the capital N’Djamena.
Hussein dismissed the claim, saying that Chadian government forces have blocked their advance.
[Mohamed Hussein]: ”When they said that they will overthrow the regime, that means they were targeting the capital, they entered Chadian territory on Sunday night, until now they have not crossed more than 150 kilometers inside the Chadian territory and today is Thursday. It is the fifth day and they have not exceeded 150 kilometers, absolutely they have been blocked.”
The Government of National Unity has however dismissed the accusations by Chad, describing the attack as a purely Chadian affair.
The accusations come a few days after Sudan and Chad signed their sixth goodwill agreement in Doha on Sunday.