N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Chadian army helicopters killed two civilians in bombing runs over a gold mining town along the Libyan border, where government forces have clashed with a fledgling rebel movement, a family member of the victims and an intelligence official said.
Two helicopters attacked the town of Kouri Bougoudi on Thursday and the two men died from their wounds on Friday, the family member, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. Two other civilians were wounded in the attacks, the person said.
An intelligence source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that two civilians were killed in the raids.
Chad’s army spokesman declined to comment.
The rebel movement, the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), was founded in 2016 and has fought Chadian forces several times near the Libyan border since last month.
The group, which claims to have several thousand fighters, says its goal is to overthrow President Idriss Deby. Deby took control of Chad in 1990 in a rebellion that toppled then-President Hissene Habre.
Deby has faced several rebellions since then but there has been relative calm since 2009. The CCMSR’s ranks include former rebels from the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan and former political allies of Habre, who is in prison in Senegal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The nascent rebellion is the latest security challenge for Deby, a close ally of the West against Islamist militants in the Sahara. Chad closed its border with Libya in January of last year in an effort to stop militants from entering.
Chad is also threatened by groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the lawless, semi-arid Sahel band as well from Nigeria-based Boko Haram militants.
(Reporting By Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Andrew Bolton)