Chad's army says rebel column in the north 'destroyed'

Last Sunday, members of the Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel force group, said they had captured garrisons near Chad's northern borders with Niger and Libya 'without resistance'.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Cherif Mahamat Zene. Picture: Twitter/@ChadianMFA

N'DJAMENA – Chad's army said Saturday it had "completely destroyed" a column of rebels that attacked the country on the day of last week's presidential election.

Soldiers were searching for the last of the rebels, army spokesperson Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on national television.

"The adventure of the mercenaries from Libya has ended, as announced," Communications Minister and government spokesperson Cherif Mahamat Zene announced on Twitter.

Four tanks and several soldiers were stationed at the northern entrance of the Chadian capital N'Djamena Saturday evening, where military vehicles were continuing to drive towards the fighting, an AFP journalist said.

The US embassy there on Saturday told its non-essential staff to leave the country because of the possibility of violence in the city.

Britain also urged its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible.

Last Sunday, members of the Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel force group, said they had captured garrisons near Chad's northern borders with Niger and Libya "without resistance".

FACT is based in Libya, where it has a non-aggression pact with Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who controls much of the country's east. Mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, it clashes regularly with the Chadian army.

The latest assault came last Sunday, the same day as the country's presidential election, which the incumbent Idriss Deby Itno -- who has ruled the country for 30 years -- is expected to win.

Preliminary results will not be announced until 25 April.

Initial indications suggested large numbers of people stayed away from the vote, prompting opposition figures to claim their calls for a boycott of the polls had worked.

The Tibesti mountains near the Libyan frontier frequently see fighting between rebels and the army. French air strikes were needed to stop an incursion there in early 2019.

In February 2008, a rebel assault reached the gates of the presidential palace before being pushed back with French backing.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.