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Chad Rebels, Army Fight in Eastern Region After Truce Ends


New clashes have erupted in eastern Chad following the collapse of a month-old cease-fire between rebels and the government.

Both sides say their forces gained the upper hand in fighting Monday near small towns east of Abeche, not far from Chad's border with Sudan's Darfur region.

The rebel groups say their forces gained territory, while the Chadian army says it wiped out rebel attacks. The French News Agency quotes officials on both sides as saying there are casualties.

The Chadian government signed a truce with four major rebel groups last month in Libya.

However, on Saturday, the government accused two of the groups of crossing the border from Sudan and attacking Chadian soldiers.

The two groups: The Union of Forces for Democracy and Development and the Rally of Forces for Change, had announced on Friday that they would break the cease-fire. The groups accuse the government of President Idriss Deby of failing to keep promises in the truce agreement.

The European Union has plans to send about 3,000 peacekeepers to eastern Chad in coming weeks. The force is meant to protect relief operations for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by violence in Darfur and Chad.

However, EU diplomats have warned the mission could be delayed because of a lack of aircraft and other vital equipment.

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