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Chad says Sudan broke peace pact

1/04/2008 - 17:29

By Moumine Ngarmbassa

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Rebels in Chad attacked an easternfrontier town on Tuesday in a raid the government said wasordered by Sudan and violated a peace pact signed last month bythe two oil-producing neighbours.

Sudan's armed forces denied any role in the attack on Adeby Chad's rebel National Alliance, which said its fightersstruck from inside Chadian territory without crossing theborder.

The latest clash and recriminations signalled a renewal oftensions between the two African states caught up in theconflict in Sudan's border region of Darfur, where around200,000 people have been killed since 2003, experts say.

Chad's government said the attacking rebels crossed fromSudanese territory and were "under orders from the Sudaneseregime" in direct violation of a peace accord signed last monthin Senegal by the presidents of both countries.

Under the March 13 accord, President Omar Hassan al-Bashirof Sudan and Chadian President Idriss Deby pledged not to allowtheir territory to be used by rebels hostile to theirgovernments. Chad has long accused Bashir of backing Chadianrebels, while Khartoum says Chad supports Darfuri insurgents.

"President Bashir has not changed and continues to try todestroy Chad. We call on the international community to bearwitness that, despite the Dakar accord, he is attacking usagain today," Chadian Prime Minister Nouradine Delwa KassireCoumakoye said in a briefing to foreign ambassadors inN'Djamena.

He said the rebel raiders travelled 78 km (50 miles) frominside Sudan to attack Ade across the border.

Sudan's armed forces quickly denied the Chadian accusationand said they were respecting all existing peace accords.

"We absolutely deny this. Sudan did not support any Chadianrebels in attacking the town of Ade. Sudan's armed forces hasno hand in what is happening in Chad -- this an internalmatter," a Sudanese military spokesman told Reuters inKhartoum.

Ali Gadaye, spokesman for the Chadian rebel NationalAlliance, said a three-hour battle followed the attack on Ade.

But he denied the rebel force had crossed from Sudan.

"That's the Chadian government's same old song," Gadayesaid, adding the rebels had advanced from positions insideChad.

BROKEN PEACE ACCORDS

Details of casualties were not immediately available.

Chad's government said its forces had beaten off the rebelattack and were mopping up the fleeing enemy.

Gadaye said the rebels had broken off the assault whengovernment reinforcements, including pro-Deby Sudanese Darfurirebels known as "Toroboro", arrived from the north. Rebelforces were still around Ade, he added.

A spokesman for a European Union military force deployed ineastern Chad to protect refugees and civilians told Reuters hehad no immediate information about the rebel attack on Ade.

The March 13 accord signed in Dakar, brokered by SenegalesePresident Abdoulaye Wade and witnessed by U.N.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was the latest in a string ofpeace pacts between the two neighbours. Previous deals had allcollapsed amid renewed fighting on both sides of the border.

Chadian rebel groups, which have fought for more than twoyears against Deby, said the Dakar accord did not concern themand vowed to continue their efforts to topple him.

The rebels attacked the Chadian capital early in February,but were held off by Deby's forces, which receivedintelligence, medical and logistical backing from French troopsand planes stationed in Chad under a cooperation accord.

Gadaye said French military planes had flown over the rebelpositions at Ade on Tuesday.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say onthe top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

(Additional reporting by Opheera McDoom in Khartoum andPascal Fletcher in Dakar; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; editingby Alistair Thomson and Mary Gabriel)


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