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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rebels in Chad Appear to have taken Ati

N'DJAMENA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - A Chadian rebel column advanced along the main road west towards the capital N'Djamena on Thursday but split up when confronted by the army and there was no threat to the city, officials said.

Army helicopters bombarded the rebels who the government says crossed from Sudan earlier this week with backing from the neighbouring country's government, a military source said.
President Idriss Deby, a French-trained former fighter pilot with a penchant for taking personal command on the battlefield, headed out to bolster government forces facing the rebels but later returned to N'Djamena, a presidency official said.

"From the military point of view there is no threat to the capital ... the government is taking the necessary measures," said the official, who declined to be named.

A government crisis committee was due to meet on Thursday evening and a Reuters witness said troops took up defensive positions on main roads into N'Djamena from the north and east.
A security source in N'Djamena, declining to be named, said earlier a rebel column of 300 vehicles had passed through the town of Ati and halted 250 km (150 miles) east of N'Djamena where a Chadian army column had moved up to confront it.

"There is a Chadian army column in front of them and there are other Chadian forces between them and the capital," he said.

Opposition Web sites said the rebels had taken Ati.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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