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Fears Rise Over Chad Violence

Chad's government is reporting new clashes between non-Arab and Arab communities, amid fears such violence is spreading in the region.

The minister for national administration says more than 100 people were killed in a remote area in southeastern Chad last week.

Details of the attack are still being confirmed, says the minister's cabinet chief.

"We have been informed that there was an intercommunity conflict," says Bany Ganosso, head of the cabinet for the administration minister. The minister has gone to the site and we are awaiting his report, he says.

The country shares a long border with Sudan's Darfur region. For more than three years, the conflict there has spilled over the border into Chad.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad. Darfur-based "Janjaweed" militias have followed, attacking Sudanese refugees and Chadians, alike. And Chadian rebels operate from bases in Darfur.

But this latest report puts violence deeper into Chadian territory. The villages involved, says Ganosso, are between 100 and 200 kilometers from the border.

Adrien Feniou is an analyst at the London-based research group Global Insight.

"It is much easier to function in a war situation as a nomadic tribe than a farmer,” he noted. “You have the potential to move out. So it is possible that these people who are moving are causing instability for the farmers and putting pressure on the resources there."

But Feniou says that, although the violence is in a different location, it is still part of the same conflict.

"To me it just appears to be part of the wider conflict. It does not seem to be a specific to a brewing ethnic in eastern Chad," he added.

There have long been conflicts between herders and farmers along the Sahel region, where the desert meets grassland. Although these conflicts are sometimes described as between "Arabs" and non-Arabs, Feniou says the ethnic distinctions are far more complex and localized.