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Chadians Protest Against Europeans in Child Case

Hundreds of angry Chadians protested Wednesday against a group of Europeans accused of illegally trying to fly more than 100 African children from Chad to France.

The protesters gathered in the eastern town of Abeche, chanting "no to the slave trade" and "no to child trafficking."

Sixteen Europeans are charged in the case and are being held in Abeche. They include six members of the French charity Zoe's Ark who face kidnapping and fraud charges.

Complicity charges have been brought against three French journalists and seven Spanish crew members of the plane chartered for the operation.

France's government has said it will do all it can to protect the French suspects arrested in the case.

French officials have condemned the actions of Zoe's Ark and say they had warned the group that flying the African children to France would be illegal.

Zoe's Ark says it arranged for French families to look after the children to save them from possible death in Sudan's Darfur region. But U.N. workers and French officials say most of the children appear to be from Chad, not from Darfur.

Chadian police detained the Europeans last Thursday just before their plane was due to take off from Abeche with the 103 children on board.

Chad's communications minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor says the case will not affect plans to deploy European peacekeepers to protect refugees on the Chadian border with Darfur.

The European Union recently authorized the deployment of 3,000 peacekeepers on Darfur's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic. Violence from the Darfur conflict has spilled into both countries, displacing thousands of people.

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