The UN refugee agency reports thousands of people have been displaced in eastern Chad, following attacks on two villages by armed men riding on camel, horseback and trucks. The attacks ? similar to those in neighboring Darfur ? has left and undetermined number of dead and wounded.
Matthew Conway is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From the town of Abeche in eastern Chad, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the weekend attacks, which are just coming to light.
?It appears that over the weekend, beginning on Saturday morning, there was a janjaweed attack on the villages of Tiero and Marena in southeastern Chad (about 45 km east of Koukou). The attack occurred very early in the morning and caught the population by surprise. It appears men specifically were targeted for killing. Women and children were allowed to flee, although they were robbed of their belongings. The testimony we?ve gathered thus far is indicating it was a janjaweed attack.?
Relief agencies report finding many wounded along roadsides. Conway says, ?Yeah, exactly. We don?t have access to all the areas just yet. In fact, our teams on the ground are reporting sporadic gunfire throughout the area. The Chadian army has been dispatched to try to secure the region. But it?s feared that certain of the assailants may have stayed behind. We have received reports of ambushes being set for people, who may have escaped the initial attack. And we?re trying to get clearer figures of how many people might have been displaced because they apparently fled in so many different directions. We?re really not sure what became of everybody. And figures regarding wounded and dead are not yet clear.?
Conway also says that there are reports that as many as 1,000 families may have fled towards Darfur, where similar violence has been going on for years now.
Early estimates by the UNHCR said about 2,000 Chadians had been displaced by the attacks. The UN agency spokesman says that figure is outdated since over 3,000 have arrived in the Abeche area alone.