Chad: Road Warriors Close In


February 2, 2008: The government said it stopped the rebel advance on the capital, while France brought in a few hundred additional troops. But France is also evacuating the families of its troops, who live in the capital. This fighting has delayed the arrival of the 3,700 EU peacekeepers, although the EU says this is only a temporary delay. It is believed that the rebels made their run on the capital because they felt this would be more difficult once the EU troops were in Chad. The rebel column was halted about a hundred kilometers outside the capital.

The government has told the UN that, in the future, it will pursue rebels into Sudan, to prevent these fellows from coming back and attacking more civilians and refugee camps.

January 31, 2008: The UN has to withdraw workers from two of the dozen refugee camps it runs in eastern Chad. There are about a quarter million refugees in the area. Rebels and bandits have become increasingly bold in their attacks on the aid workers, stealing vehicles, office equipment, cash and food. The air workers hire local gunmen for security, but not enough to be everywhere all the time.

January 30, 2008: Two columns of rebels (about 300 vehicles, and perhaps a thousand fighters) are headed from the Sudanese border, to the capital. Two years ago, the rebels tried the same thing, and failed. Back then, a few hundred rebels made it from the border (a road trip of about 800 kilometers) and into the capital, where they were killed or captured. About 90 percent of those rebels never made it to the capital, having been killed to driven off, while on the way, by government troops and aircraft. There's a smaller rebel force headed for the capital this time, and they are now about 250 kilometers away.

January 25, 2008: The commander of Irelands commando units, and three other soldiers, arrived in the capital, to finalize preparations for the arrival of fifty more Irish troops in a week, and another 350 in two months. The EU peacekeepers were supposed to be in Chad three months ago, but shortages of equipment and nerve have delayed things.

January 22, 2008: Switzerland complained that Chad has been arming its three PC-7 and one PC-9 trainers. The 2.7 and 3.2 ton single engine aircraft look like World War II fighters, and are equipped to carry up to a ton of bombs and gun pods. But Switzerland has laws prohibiting the export of weapons to a war zone, especially since Chad is believed to have used these aircraft to make attacks in neighboring Sudan. Chad is in the middle of a border war with Sudan, and a civil war with several tribal groups, and is expected to ignore the Swiss complaints.

January 18, 2008: In eastern Chad, the rebel ANR (Alliance for National Resistance) claimed to have shot down one of the army's two Mi-24 helicopter gunships, and forcing the other helicopters (including several Mi-17 transports) to stay on the ground. The ANR used a SAM 7 portable air-to-ground missile. If they have a few dozen of these missiles, the government helicopters are at great risk.




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