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Foreigners flee Chad fighting

 Foreigners flee Chad fighting
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Forces loyal to the President of Chad claim to have beaten back rebels in the capital N’Djamena after a second day of fighting. But the situation remains confused. Pictures shot by French soldiers stationed in Chad appear to show rebels trucks moving around the capital unopposed.

France is the former colonial power in Chad, but says it will remain neutral in this crisis. Paris has launched an evacuation operation for some 1500 foreigners who live and work in Chad. They are being flown out via Gabon, heading for France.

They are the lucky ones. The United Nations has called for an immediate end to the fighting, which has seen hundreds killed or wounded, and thousands more forced to flee.

The rebels attacked from the east. Chad says they are armed and supported by Sudan, something N’Djamena says is a declaration of war.

President Idriss Déby came to power in his own armed coup in 1990, and repulsed a similar attempted rebellion two years ago.

The rebel attacks have threatened the deployment of a European force in eastern Chad, to tackle the fighting across the border in Darfur.