Fresh fighting breaks out in eastern Chad

Fresh clashes between Chad’s government army and rebels broke out on Thursday near the eastern border with Sudan, three days after a major battle that shattered a month-old peace accord, army and rebel sources said.

Chad’s government said on Wednesday its army had tracked down and destroyed fleeing remnants of the rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) following Monday’s battle in which both sides said hundreds had been killed.

But UFDD spokesperson Mahamat Hassane Boulmaye told Reuters that fighting had resumed early on Thursday.

Chadian army sources, who asked not to be named, also confirmed renewed clashes after an army column advanced from the garrison town of Guereda and attacked the rebels in their mountain stronghold at Hadjer-Marfaine.

”Since 10am [local time], our troops are engaging the UFDD rebels at Hadjer-Marfaine,” one source said.

”After fighting finished yesterday [Wednesday] at nightfall, we started again this morning. We are chasing them towards the [Sudan] border,” another army source said.

There was no independent confirmation of the fighting or information on casualties.

Monday’s battle was the heaviest in months in eastern Chad, where up to 3 700 European Union peacekeepers are due to start deploying early in the New Year on a mission to protect hundreds of thousands of Chadian and Sudanese refugees.

The UFDD and another rebel group, the Assembly of Forces for Change (RFC), abandoned a ceasefire at the weekend and accused President Idriss Déby Itno’s government of not honouring parts of a Libyan-brokered peace accord signed last month. –Reuters

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