Rebels in Chad are vowing to push on their latest offensive against the
Chadian government, despite recent altercations with European
peacekeepers. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in
Rebels said they had one group of fighters about
100-kilometers south of the main eastern city of Abeche on Sunday,
while there were few clashes around Goz Beida, the scene of recent
A Dakar-based spokesman for the National Alliance rebel coalition says the rebels are very mobile.
Nguebla says some fighters are still around Goz Beida, while others are
pushing toward the capital, N'Djamena, which he says remains the
He called French soldiers helping the army of Chadian
President Idriss Deby with surveillance enemies. France has a
permanent military presence in its former colony, and its forces helped
the Chadian army push back a rebel offensive that nearly toppled Mr.
Deby earlier this year.
dismissed statements by France's Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard
Kouchner saying France does not support long-time leader Mr. Deby.
Rebels say they want all-inclusive political dialogue to organize new
elections and end years of corruption in the oil-rich, mostly desert
The Chadian army responded to the latest rebel
offensive by sending out reinforcements east, and flying out
helicopters to bomb rebel positions. The Chadian government says the
rebels are mercenaries being paid by Sudan, a charge the rebels and
Rebels say Chad's army is being helped by
Darfurian rebels, charges that are also denied. Repeated mediation
efforts between Chad and Sudan have all failed.
spokesman Nguebla says that in the recent confusion European
peacekeepers started firing at National Alliance positions, and that he
regrets what he called this lack of neutrality.
A spokesman for
the European peacekeeping force said it was fired upon by unidentified
armed elements on Saturday and that it fired back.
then said the firing took place when peacekeepers were caught in the
cross-fire involving unidentified armed elements and the Chadian army.
The peacekeeping force is made up mostly of French soldiers, but also
includes peacekeepers from other European countries.
is meant to protect hundreds of thousands of refugees from the nearby
Darfur conflict, as well as hundreds of thousands of displaced
Chadians. It also has troops in the Central African Republic.
Beida in eastern Chad is a main center for international relief camps.
Aid workers said no one had been injured in the camps during the recent
fighting, but that there had been heavy looting of their offices in Goz
Beida. They said residents were cheering on Saturday when the rebels
briefly took over Goz Beida.