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Government admits presence of new rebel group

A new Chadian rebel group claimed today to have captured two garrisons in northern Chad. AFP quoted Ahmed Kailan, the Paris-based spokesman of the rebel Mouvement pour la dimocratie et la justice au Tchad (MDJT) as saying that MDJT fighters took Zoumri and Omou, located in the semi-desert Tibetsi region, on 8 and 9 March.

Violent clashes had occurred last week in the Tibetsi between the MDJT and troops loyal to Chadian President Idriss Deby, AFP and the Libreville-based ‘Africa No. 1’ radio station reported. Kailan said the two sides had fought 15 times since the MDJT was formed in October last in the Tibetsi.

The rebel group’s leader, Youssouf Togoimi, was minister of defence and then of home affairs between 1995 and 1997, but after being placed under house arrest in Ndjamena, he fled to his home area in the Tibetsi mountains and started his rebellion with about 100 men, Kailan explained.

Chad’s government on Tuesday admitted for the first time that the MDJT existed, but said it posed no threat. “How can a small group of 40 people holed up in the Tibetsi without any way to get out constitute a threat to our country and the common will of the Chadians to live in peace?” AFP reported Deby as saying in a speech carried yesterday (Wednesday)on Chadian radio.

According to AFP, the MDJT has been welcomed by two other rebel groups opposed to Deby’s government: the Mouvement pour la democratie et le developpement (MDD), based around Lake Chad in the southwest, and the Front national du Tchad renove (FNTR)in the eastern region of Ouaddai.

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