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Two Opposition Leaders Still Missing in Chad

Chad's foreign minister says one of the three missing opposition leaders seized earlier this month is under house arrest, another has been sighted in the country's capital, but the fate of a third man remains unclear. Ahmad Allam-Mi spoke to reporters at the United Nations Tuesday and VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Chad's foreign minister said opposition leader and former president, Lol Mahamat Choua, was arrested and held at a military prison, but is now at home under house arrest. In 1979, Choua served briefly as Chad's president.

The status of Ibni Oumar Mahamet Saleh remains unclear. Like the others, he disappeared on February third, when the rebels pulled back from the capital, N'Djamena. Minister Allam-Mi did not offer any information on his whereabouts.

But he did go into detail about Ngarlejy Yorongar, saying he was seen in the capital three days ago. He said Yorongar's brother and lawyer denied that the opposition leader was back in the city. But Allam-Mi says the government had information again Monday that Yorongar has reappeared.

"Yesterday we received information once again confirming that Yorongar is present and is living in the city," said Allam-Mi. "That information we received from his sister and from his chauffer that spoke to the press. And we were told that Monsieur Yorongar is probably going to speak tomorrow to explain the circumstances of his arrest."

Human rights groups warn that the two missing men are at risk of torture and have called for their immediate release. They have also accused the French government of knowing that Chadian security officials were holding the men soon after their arrest but did not disclose it.

Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled to visit Chad. His spokesman said ahead of the trip that Mr. Sarkozy would press President Idriss Deby to set up an international investigation into the fate of the missing opposition leaders.

Rebels attacked the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, on February second in an effort to oust President Deby. They retreated after a three-day battle that killed more than 100 people. Chad has accused Sudan of backing the rebels, a charge Khartoum has denied.

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