Chad rebels declare war on French, foreign forces

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.

Chad rebels declare war on French, foreign forces
French troops and aircraft are stationed in Chad under a bilateral defense accord. The EU force, around half of which will be French, is preparing to deploy near the eastern border with Sudan in coming weeks to protect refugees and aid workers.

The Chadian rebel group Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) said in a statement that it now "considers itself to be in a state of war against the French army, or against any other foreign forces in the national territory."

UFDD fighters have been battling government forces loyal to President Idriss Deby in eastern Chad since the weekend, in fierce clashes that have shattered a month-old peace accord between Deby's government and his main rebel foes.

The rebels said French military aircraft had flown over their positions on reconnaissance missions for the government during heavy fighting on Thursday between the towns of Guereda and Adre, along the border with Sudan's Darfur region.

"Providing diplomatic, strategic and logistical support to Idriss Deby is an act of hostility and will be treated as such," the UFDD statement said.

Rebels have been fighting Deby in the east for two years. They have in the past criticized France's support for him, but have stopped short of direct hostilities with French forces.

Chad is a former French colony, and France is providing around half of the 3,700 EU peacekeepers who are due to start arriving early next year on a U.N. mission to protect camps housing more than 400,000 Chadian and Sudanese refugees.

It will complement a bigger United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force planned for Darfur.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Kasım 2007, 19:01