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Chad breaks diplomatic relations with Sudan
N'djamena - April 14 2006 - Chad broke off all diplomatic relations with Sudan on Friday and ordered Sudanese diplomats to leave the country, the president said, following a rebel attack on the capital that he said was supported by the Sudanese government.
Idriss Deby also said he would expel all 200 000 Sudanese refugees now living in Chad if the United Nations and the African Union did not help stop what he said were Sudan's attempts to destabilise his government.
"The international community has been totally deaf and dumb on the situation between Sudan and Chad," Deby said following an extraordinary Cabinet meeting. They "need to understand the situation and that enough is enough."
Deby has repeatedly portrayed the rebels attempting to overthrow him as mercenaries employed by Sudan, something Sudanese officials have denied.
The UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council both condemned Thursday's rebel attack on N'djamena and called for both Chad and Sudan to take all necessary steps to prevent any more violence or an escalation of tensions between the two countries.
The United Nations has long warned that the violence in the Sudanese province of Darfur would destabilise the region, especially Chad.
Gen. Mahamet Ali Abdullah, the territorial management minister, told reporters Friday that at least 350 people died during the rebel attack on Chad's capital, and 271 rebels were captured.
He said he did not have a breakdown of the dead, but that the number included government troops, rebel forces and civilians caught in the fighting.
'Need to understand the situation and that enough is enough'
He said the army also captured 14 pickups used by the rebels, some mounted with anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns and missile launchers.
"After the battle yesterday morning, military and security forces mopped up in the city outskirts, taking out the rebels in their hiding places," he said, insisting there was no immediate threat of another attack.
Chadian troops paraded the prisoners and laid out the bodies of dead insurgents at the National Assembly building on Friday.
The majority of the prisoners were under 25 years of age and many claimed to be Sudanese who had been conscripted into the rebel United Forces for Change.
One said he was an adjutant in the Sudanese army, while another was recognised by loyalist troops as a former Chadian soldier.
Some said they had been assured that there would be no fighting for the capital, N'djamena, once they entered the city.
In just three days, the rebels charged 1 000km in pickups from their bases and came close to capturing the National Assembly building in the centre of N'Djamena.
Government troops pushed them back with tanks, artillery and attack helicopters.
Deby first presented the prisoners to the media Thursday evening. Four tanks guarded the presidential palace Friday.
Deby has declared victory over the rebels, following the second attempt to overthrow him in less than a month. Army officers first attempted to overthrow him while he was out of the country on March 14.
Deby has seen his authority undermined by violence across the border in Sudan's Darfur, where the rebels are based.
The path to power in Chad via Darfur is something Deby knows well - he seized power in a 1990 coup launched from there himself.
A Web site that said it represented the rebels reported on Thursday that rebel troops were on the move to the north and east of N'Djamena and were regrouping.
There was also a statement claiming that rebel forces now controlled two towns near the Sudanese border, Adre and Am-Timam, but the report could not be independently verified.
Chad, an arid, landlocked country about three times the size of France, has been wrecked by violence for most of its history, with more than 30 years of civil war since independence from France in 1960 and different small-scale insurgencies since 1998.
The competition for power has become more intense since the country began producing oil. An Exxon Mobil-led consortium exported 133,2 million barrels of oil from Chad between October 2003 and December 2005, according to the World Bank.
Chad, which receives a 12,5 percent royalty on each barrel exported, earned a net total of $307-million, the bank said.
The Sudanese government has accused Chad of supporting the Darfur rebels, even as Deby has sought to mediate in the stalled Darfur peace process.
The Sudanese minister of foreign affairs, Lam Akol, insisted again that Sudan has no connection with the Chadian rebels and said Sudan hoped that Chad would remain stable.
The Sudanese government is accused of unleashing Arab tribal militias to murder and rape civilians and lay waste to villages in Darfur, but it denies the charge.
More than 200 000 refugees have fled to Chad and the conflict has left about 180 000 dead over the last three years - most from disease and hunger.
France has about 1 400 troops in Chad to protect about 1 500 French citizens there, the French Defence Ministry said in a statement in Paris.
The ministry said French fighter jets carried out reconnaissance missions over Chad on Wednesday and Thursday to assess any threats.
"The situation in Chad remains very worrying and volatile," French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Baptiste Mattei said on Thursday.
He said French citizens had been advised to be cautious and the French school in Chad had been closed.
France has a cooperation agreement with Chad but a special decision would be needed for French forces to enter combat.
Source : Sapa-AP