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Chadian President Says Govt. in 'Total Control' After Rebel Assault


Chad's President Idriss Deby says his government is in" total control" of the entire country after an assault by rebels on the capital, N'Djamena, that left more than 100 civilians dead.

Mr. Deby made the comment Wednesday in his first public appearance since the rebel assault began late last week.

An exiled Chadian rebel spokesman, Makaila Nguebla, says the insurgents are 30 kilometers outside the capital and could carry out new attacks over the next days.

International aid groups in Chad say more than 100 civilians have been killed in the fighting and another thousand have been injured.

Mr. Deby met Wednesday with the visiting French defense minister, Herve Morin, to discuss the situation.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Paris will "do its duty" in response to what he called rebel aggression. France has about 1,500 troops stationed in Chad, a former colony.

The rebels are warning that if the French use military force, rebel fighters could attack French as well as Chadian soldiers.

The United Nations' refugee agency says more than 3,000 people have fled Chad for northern Nigeria. The U.N. says it also has registered 20,000 Chadian refugees in Cameroon. Some aid agencies estimate that up to 500,000 people, or half the population of N'Djamena, have fled the capital.

Also Wednesday, Mr. Deby told reporters that he would consider pardoning six French aid workers who were convicted of attempted kidnapping in Chad.

The members of the aid organization Zoe's Ark were arrested in eastern Chad in October while trying to put 103 children on a plane to France. They were later repatriated to France to serve eight years in prison.

The workers said they believed they were saving orphans from Sudan's troubled Darfur region, but an investigation found that most of the children were Chadian.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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