The sun-blasted desert between this small Chadian border town and Sudan's Darfur is scattered with stunted trees and thorny shrubs. Beneath each one, Sudanese refugees huddle under blankets or sheets tied to branches, desperately seeking shade.
A state of emergency declared in Chad will do little to calm nerves among residents in the capital, Ndjamena, many of whom complain soldiers are already taking advantage of a security crackdown to loot homes. President Idriss Déby Itno declared a state of emergency across the former French colony late on Thursday.
Insecurity in eastern Chad is worsening as President Idriss Déby Itno's armed forces battle rebels on several fronts. The Chadian army has launched several major offensives against rebel positions since a month-long ceasefire fell apart recently and hundreds of fighters have been killed and wounded.
Charred bodies and burnt-out trucks still lie on the blackened grass in a valley in eastern Chad two days after the fighting moved further north. Columns of smoke rise up and drift across the smouldering plains beneath Tourka Mountain, a rocky outcrop near the border with Sudan's Darfur region.
Chadian anti-government rebels on Friday declared a ''state of war'' against French and foreign military forces in an apparent warning to a European Union peacekeeping force that plans to deploy there soon. French troops and aircraft are stationed in Chad under a bilateral defence accord.
Chadian rebels warned a European Union peacekeeping force bound for eastern Chad on Wednesday not to side with President Idriss Déby Itno, saying they would fight it as a foreign occupation army if it did so. The warning from the rebel Assembly of Forces for Change followed the biggest battle in months in eastern Chad.
Rebels and government soldiers fought gun battles in eastern Chad on Monday near the border with Sudan's Darfur region after two rebel groups ended a month-long ceasefire on the weekend, a rebel leader said. Government officials confirmed there had been clashes in the area, but gave no information on casualties.
A group of French charity workers arrested in Chad on child kidnapping charges went to extraordinary lengths to keep their adoption operation under wraps, it emerged. A total of 17 Europeans have been charged in connection with a bid to smuggle more than 100 children out of eastern Chad to France, where they were to have been adopted by host families.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew seven freed Europeans out of Chad on Sunday but 10 others remained in jail charged with child abduction and fraud. The three French journalists and four Spanish flight attendants were among 16 French and Spanish nationals arrested as they tried to fly 103 African children to Europe.
Chadians chanting ''No to the slave trade, no to child-trafficking'' protested on Wednesday against a French group accused of trying to illegally fly children from the the country to Europe. Several hundred angry locals gathered outside the governor's office in the town of Abeche, where nine French nationals and seven Spaniards were arrested last week.
Chadian authorities charged nine French nationals on Tuesday with abduction and fraud after they were detained trying to fly 103 African children to Europe to live with families, Chad's government said. A Chadian prosecutor said the French faced five to 20 years of hard labour if convicted in the landlocked African country.
A series of devastating attacks in which armed men loot homes, kill unarmed civilians and burn down villages has pushed an entire population into hiding in remote areas of the north-western Central African Republic. Villagers have fled their homes and taken to the bush, living in the forests to avoid further attacks.