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Chad declares emergency in east after dozens die in ethnic violence

Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders - many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails - and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community.

FILE: Chad President Idriss Deby. Picture: AFP

N'DJAMENA, Chad - Chad President Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces on Sunday after violent intercommunal clashes left dozens dead earlier this month.

The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions where 50 people have died since 9 August in fighting between cattle herders and settled farmers, the president's office said.

"From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region," Deby said while on a trip to Sila.

"We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands," he said.

Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders - many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails - and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community.

Drought and population growth have aggravated the conflict while an influx of weapons from conflict-stricken neighbours have made it even more deadly.

Deby in particular blamed the unrest in Sudan, describing it as the "principal cause" of the ethnic violence.

Speaking earlier this month, the president had described the violence as a "national concern," adding: "We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon."

"Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people," he said at the time.

Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

They have been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who grabbed power in 1990, looks to maintain his hold on the country.

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