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Chadian Rebels Shoot Down Military Reconnaissance Plane

Rebels in eastern Chad say they have shot down a government military reconnaissance plane.

The Chadian rebel alliance, the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, says it downed the plane Tuesday near the town of Abeche, using a recently captured ground-to-air missile.

Chadian officials confirmed the plane was shot down near the Sudanese border. They gave no other details.

The rebels also say they shot down a government helicopter, but that claim has not been confirmed.

Rebel forces trying to unseat Chadian President Idriss Deby have been battling government troops in the country's east for more than a year.

The rebels occupied Abeche on Saturday before government forces regained control. U.N. relief agencies have reported heavy looting of their warehouses in the town, which is a hub for efforts to help displaced Chadians and refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.

Wednesday, a Chadian government spokesman, Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, repeated accusations that the rebels are backed by Sudan. Sudan denies the allegations.

Chad's government has increased security in the capital, N'Djamena, since the French embassy warned on Saturday that a rebel column was moving toward the city. The embassy later said the column had stopped advancing, and the government says the capital is not in danger.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.