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Rebel Fighters Attack Town in Eastern Chad

By VOA News
14 June 2008

Rebels in Chad have attacked a town in the east of the country where thousands of refugees were taking shelter.

Witnesses say there was heavy fighting between rebels and government troops in the town of Goz-Beida for at least an hour Saturday, before the gunfire died down. It is not clear if there were casualties.

European Union peacekeepers say one of their patrols came under fire during the fighting and returned fire. An Irish official said it is not clear who fired on the troops. He said there were no European casualties.

Chad's army says it is again in control of the town.

Rebels described their attack on the town as part of their campaign to reach the capital and oust President Idriss Deby.

Goz-Beida is more than 700 kilometers to the east of the capital, N'Djamena, and is near the Sudanese border and Darfur. The town is home to both Darfur refugees and Chadians displaced by internal conflict.

Chad's eastern-based rebels have been trying for more than two years to overthrow President Deby, denouncing him as autocratic and corrupt.

Rebels attacked N'Djamena in February. They besieged Mr. Deby's palace but failed to drive him from power.

Chad accused Sudan of supporting the coup attempt. Relations between the governments have been hostile despite several peace agreements between them.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


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