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Renewed Violence in Chad, Sudan Force New Rebel Strategy


In Chad, dozens of people have been reported killed or wounded in fighting that began Monday between government forces and rebels in the eastern part of the country near the border with Sudan. Chad's government says its forces entered Sudan in pursuit of the rebels, but the rebel groups deny they entered Chad. Phuong Tran spoke with a rebel leader on the border of Chad and has this report for VOA.

Amine Ben Barka, who until recently was second in command of one of the main rebel groups, the National Chadian Concord, says the fighters did not cross into Sudan. He says government forces were looking for an excuse to carry out attacks in Sudan.

Barka says he split off from the Chadian Concord, because of disagreements to form his own rebel alliance, the Concord of Progress and Recourse.

Barka, who was once a director of Chad's central bank, says the lack of unity among rebel groups can cripple their movement.

Members of the main rebel groups, including the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, have called for a meeting of all the opposition groups to create a common agenda.

Barka blames the government of President Idriss Deby for scores of civilian deaths in recent fighting and says rebels must unite to confront the government.

Barka accuses Chad's army of giving arms to civilians along the Sudanese border, increasing inter-ethnic violence and civilian fighting.

But the Chadian government says it is Sudanese militia, also known as Janjaweed fighters, who have killed and displaced thousands in cross-border raids.

The UN refugees agency says Janjaweed militiamen killed as many as 400 people in Chad's southeastern villages of Marena and Tiero in cross-border fighting 10 days ago.

Leaders from different countries, including China and South Africa, are supporting U.N. efforts to convince Chad and Sudan's leaders to accept more international peacekeepers in the unstable region.

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