The government of Chad has denied claims that its capital, N’Djamena, is under threat from advancing rebel troops. Forces hostile to the rule of President Idriss Déby have attacked border settlements and strategic towns in the east of the country. Thousands of displaced people are being housed in temporary camps in the region, adding their numbers to the 200,000 refugees who have fled the fighting in neighbouring Darfur.
The humanitarian aid depot of Abeche is now said to be back in government hands, along with the nearby town of Biltine, after being briefly seized by rebels at the weekend.
The escalation in the conflict in Chad is fuelling fears that the fighting in Darfur is beginning to spill over the border and promote instability in neighbouring countries. The Chadian President has widened his rhetoric against Sudan to include Saudi Arabia, accusing both countries of waging an Islamist offensive by backing the rebels who oppose him. Sudan denies this and, in turn, accuses Déby of supporting Sudanese rebels in Darfur. Chad recently declared a state of emergency as a result of ethnic attacks on its eastern villages by Arab militia.