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Chadian Rebels Regroup During Renewed Fighting

Renewed violence in eastern Chad this week has accusations flying between rebel groups and government officials in both Chad and Sudan. Uma Ramiah reports from Dakar.

An exiled spokesman for the recently formed Chad rebel coalition known as the National Alliance, Mansour Abbas, tells VOA the group was attacked in eastern Chad this week, not by government soldiers, but by Sudanese rebels supported by Chadian President Idriss Deby.

He says his group did not initiate the attacks, but was defending itself from the Sudanese rebels.

Chadian government officials have a different explanation. They say it is Sudan that is again backing a rebel incursion.

Rebel groups stormed Chad's capital N'djamena in early February, but were driven out by Chadian troops with French military support.

The Chadian rebel group says the accusations are absolutely false. The spokesman says the National Alliance acts on behalf of the Chadian people, without any Sudanese support.

But at least one Chadian rebel leader has clear links with Sudan authorities. Sudanese rebels have their political headquarters in N'Djamena.

In the latest of several peace agreements signed between the Chad and Sudan, the country's presidents signed a pact last month to stop cross-border attacks originating from their territories.

The rebel spokesman says the pact did not concern them as it was simply an agreement signed between two presidents. Though the National Alliance will continue its fight against the Chadian president, he says if asked, they are willing to take part in direct talks with the country's leader.

He says the National Alliance is not concerned with Sudan, but was borne out of insurgent groups trying to form a more cohesive front against the Chadian government.

The spokesman says the Alliance was formed last month in an effort to better unite Chadian rebel groups, which previously functioned under the title, "The Union." He hopes the formation of this new group, which brings together four separate rebel factions, will erase what he calls political disagreement and dissent in the ranks over leadership and vision.

The Alliance accuses President Deby of grave human rights abuses against the Chadian people. They say he has also ignored pacts signed with rebel groups in Chad and kidnaps and kills those opposed to his regime.

Chad's President Deby says there are many spies and traitors within his own government, and that he is first in line among Chadians in defending the country's territorial integrity.