Fight­ing over gold in Chad leaves dozens dead

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

N’DJAMENA(Chad): Fight­ing be­tween Cha­dian and Su­danese rebels at a re­mote gold­mine in north­ern Chad has left dozens dead, lo­cal and rebel sources said on Sun­day.

The fight­ing pit­ting Cha­dian rebels against a Su­danese group close to the N’Djamena gov­ern­ment took place on Satur­day in the Kouri Bougoudi re­gions, the sources said.

Mem­bers of the Su­danese Move­ment for Jus­tice and Equal­ity (MJE) “at­tacked our po­si­tions... and we re­sponded,” said Cheikh Tahir of the Cha­dian rebel group, the Mil­i­tary Com­mand Coun­cil for the Sal­va­tion of the Repub­lic (CCMSR). Tahir said he took part in the fight­ing.

Sources said the MJE rebels had crossed over from neigh­bour­ing Libya aboard dozens of ve­hi­cles.

A Cha­dian se­cu­rity source said the MJE was re­spond­ing to an at­tack in late De­cem­ber against gold pan­ners be­long­ing to the same eth­nic group that left at least 30 gold min­ers dead, ac­cord­ing to a rights group. CCMSR rebels said gov­ern­ment forces backed the MJE dur­ing a sec­ond clash on Sun­day.

The MJE, a rebel group from western Su­dan, is known to be close to Cha­dian Pres­i­dent Idriss Deby, who is him­self from east­ern Chad on the bor­der with Su­dan.

The re­mote moun­tain­ous re­gion of Kouri Bougoudi strad­dling the bor­der be­tween Chad and Libya has been a theatre of vi­o­lence since gold was dis­cov­ered there in 2012 and 2013.

Il­le­gal min­ers

Min­ers have rushed in from around Chad and abroad, lead­ing to fric­tion over ac­cess to lu­cra­tive sites. In Au­gust last year, the gov­ern­ment car­ried out a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in the re­gion aimed at “clear­ing out” il­le­gal min­ers and stop­ping cross-bor­der in­cur­sions from Cha­dian rebels.

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