Sunday, December 10, 2006

Current Fighting in Chad

There has been ongoing fighting in Chad between the rebel forces and government for a few weeks now. Currently, the principle city in the east and capital of the Ouaddai province, Abeche, has become the functional military headquarters in the region. Regular updates on the situation can be found at the excellent blog, Chad News. Current information is below the fold.

Much of the fighting with the rebels has been in the Biltine province, at the provincial capital Biltine and the smaller settlement of Guereda. (map)

The French military istallation at Abeche, which has approximately 150 troops has, according to reports, been sheltering expat civilians on occasions when fighting returns to Abeche. Currently, it is not known who controls Biltine and Guereda:

Apparently the fighting in Biltine was not over on Friday. On Saturday and through last night, the battle wounded continue to pour into Abéché. From there, they were treated at the hospital or evacuated to N'Djaména by plane. Airplanes and helicopters keep taking off and landing from the Abéché airport, which has become a sort of base of operations for the battle taking place. We are hearing about 300 deaths on the ANT side and 50 on the rebellion side, but these numbers have not been confirmed. The Abéché hospital is being heavily guarded; for some reason, the soldiers do not want anyone to know what is going on in there. We are hearing something about heavy fighting going on in Arada, with a lot of soldiers wounded in the battle. Over one hundred ANT vehicles came into Abéché on the N'Djaména road today, on their way to the battleground, leaving town on the Biltine road. Some of the vehicles were modernistic Hum-V type trucks with a cannon in the middle and two machine guns on each side. They were new from the manufacturer; the plastic cover was still on the gun. (via Chad News)

No word has been heard from the camps in the area closest to the fighting, Mile and (pop. 13,544) and Kounoungo (pop. 11,790).

There is some concern as Kounoungo lies directly on the main road between Guerda and Biltine. There has been no report from the Guerda UNHCR Field Office, although, as mentioned elsewhere, the foreign aid presence in the region has dropped dramatically as fighting has escalated.

Additionally, I have heard unconfirmed reports that the rebels had someone on the inside at the Presidential Palace during the last assault on the capital in April, although it is unknown if this continues to be the case. Elsewhere, other reports have suggested that while Deby remains unpopular, the evident Sudanese involvement in the insurgency has turned a great number of Chadians against the insurgents.