Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Clashes kill more than 100 in Chad

TRIBAL VIOLENCE In what authorities characterized as inter-tribal confrontations over a 'problem,' Arab and non-Arab groups unleashed waves of terrible fighting

AFP , N'DJAMENA

Violent clashes between Arab and non-Arab tribes in two eastern regions of Chad have left more than 100 dead over the past week, the government said on Tuesday.

A first wave of tribal violence occurred last week in the southeastern part of the country, killing roughly 100 people.

The clashes came just one week after fighting between rebels and the army in the same region, which borders the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, reportedly led to the deaths of around 100 guerrillas and more than 200 soldiers.

Later on Tuesday, Chadian officials announced a separate outburst of violence between Arabs and non-Arabs in the far eastern part of the country, that left "numerous victims" in recent days.

In both cases, officials furnished little explanation as to the cause of the fighting.

"Inter-tribal confrontations have taken place since Nov. 4," in two eastern Chadian villages, Chadian Communication Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said in a statement regarding the latest bout of unrest.

"These confrontations have left numerous victims on both sides," he added.

National Administration Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said a "problem" between Arab and the non-Arab Kibet tribes in southeastern Chad a week ago had initially left three dead in each community. But the situation rapidly degenerated.

"The Arabs in neighboring districts then organized attacks on the Kibet villages," Bachir explained by telephone from Am Timan, the main town in the Salamat region, where the clashes took place.

He said several villages had been burned in the fighting, which left "more than 100 dead," a number of wounded and forced others to flee their homes.

The head of the Chadian human rights league (LTDH), Massalbaye Tenebaye, said the violence had left "more than 140 people dead and 38 seriously wounded."

A dozen villages north of Am Timan had been destroyed, with "more than 400 huts burnt to the ground."

Tenebaye said it was hard to obtain a final assessment of the human and material damage because sections of the tribes involved appeared to be hiding in the bush, fearing a new flare-up.

Minister Bachir said calm had been restored to the region on Nov. 4. He has been in leading a delegation in Salamat for the past three days "to assess the damage and conduct enquiries."

The region of Salamat borders the Central African Republic and is across the border from Darfur, where fighting pitting Arab militias backed by the Sudanese government against non-Arab black Africans has killed at least 200,000 people since early 2003.

Last month, Salamat was the scene of clashes between the Chadian army and the country's rebel Union for the Forces of Democracy and Development (UFDD), a newly formed coalition opposed to the regime of President Idriss Deby Itno.

The rebels briefly occupied Am Timan and the eastern town of Goz Beida on Oct. 23. The incident led N'Djamena to accuse Sudan of supporting the rebels, an allegation both Khartoum and the UFDD have denied.

The Chadian authorities did not on Tuesday establish any link between the presence in the east of the UFDD rebels -- one of whose leaders is Arab -- and the clashes between Arabs and Kibets last week.

But the LTDH's Tenebaye said he could not rule out a possible connection between the two.

"Regions and ethnic groups have always been exploited for political ends," he said.

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