Clashes have been reported in the capital of Chad between government forces and rebels trying to overthrow the president. Residents in the N’Djamena say they have heard heavy machinegun and artillery fire with the insurgents said to be meeting stiff resistance. The rebels, known as A United Force for Change, say they are moving towards parliament. Tanks are said to be in position outside the presidential palace and Chadian soldiers, aided by French forces, have set up a perimeter.
The former colonial power, France, has 1,200 troops in Chad and 160 extra soldiers are said to be on their way from Gabon. The landlocked central African state has been on the alert after a wave of hit-and-run attacks over the last three days. President Idriss Deby has reportedly told a French news agency that the situation is under control. The violence comes three weeks before elections expected to be won by the President. The rebels accuse him of being a dictator and say they want to organise a national forum that will lead to a transitional government and on to democratic elections.