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Chad Rebels Seize Another Northeastern Town

Rebels in Chad say they have seized a military garrison town in the remote north, as they push on in a conflict of attrition against the government. Naomi Schwarz reports for VOA from Dakar.

Rebels say they took control of Addé, a town in the northeastern region bordering Sudan and Libya. This is the third town the rebels say they have taken in the past week.

Spokesman for the rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, Mikaila Nguebla, says the group's fighters encountered little resistance.

"Each time the rebels mount a military action, they do not encounter any resistance," Ngeubla said. "This shows that the government retains little support or power in the region."

Last year, rebels took towns in a region further south, but repeatedly pulled out as government forces moved in.

The Britain-based Royal Institute of International Affairs Africa Programs head , Alex Vines, says this shift to the northeast is part of the rebel's strategy to overthrow Chad's president, Idriss Deby.

"They are trying to spread the government of Chad's response, so as to weaken it," he said. "This is all part of the longer-term strategy to get regime change in Chad."

But, analyst Adrien Feniou, of the London-based think tank Global Insight, is skeptical of the rebels stated purpose.

"Basically, the rebels are in a position of weakness," he said. "They are not going to conquer Chad."

He says that there are two possible reasons for the rebel activity.

"Either the rebels are fighting on behalf of Sudanese interests, which I do not think is entirely true, or they are buying time for negotiations to get whatever it is that the leadership of the UFDD is seeking, beyond toppling Deby," he said.

He says that this latest attack is likely to follow the pattern of previous ones, in which rebels take a town and soon retreat back over the Sudanese border.