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Chad military claims victory over rebels that killed Deby

Rebels from Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), captured during the fighting in the north of the country, are pictured at the army headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad. Photo credit Reuters

The Chadian military has claimed victory in its weeks-long battle with rebels that led to the death of President Idriss Deby on the battlefield.

Crowds in the capital N’Djamena cheered on Sunday as soldiers returned from the front line in a column of tanks and armoured vehicles.

The army’s Chief of the General Staff Abakar Abdelkerim Daoud told reporters that the triumphant return of the army to the barracks heralded the end of operations and Chad’s victory.

At an army base in N’Djamena, dozens of captured rebels sat in the dirt, on display for the assembled press.

However, the spokesman of the rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol said it was not aware of an end to the fighting.

FACT fighters crossed the border from Libya in April to take a stand against Deby, whose 30-year rule they opposed. His subsequent death while visiting troops plunged the country into crisis.

Members of the security forces patrol Chad’s capital N’Djamena following the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby in N’Djamena. Photo credit Reuters

On Saturday, security forces fired tear gas to disperse a protest against the ruling military council. The council, led by Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Itno, seized power after Deby’s death, promising to oversee an 18-month transition to elections.

Opposition politicians and civil society have denounced the takeover as a coup and called for supporters to take to the streets. At least five people were killed during a protest on April 27.

A prominent human rights activist, Mahamat Nour Ibedou said opponents had planned a further protest on Sunday, but postponed it out of fear the authorities planned to suppress it violently.

Former colonial ruler France, which has a military presence in Chad and was a long-term backer of Deby, initially signalled its strong support for the council but has since called for a civilian national unity government.

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