Chad's president declares victory following rebel attack on the capital

Government forces used attack helicopters, tanks and heavy weapons in a fierce battle with rebels Thursday as a power struggle in oil-producing Chad reached the capital.

The president, who himself seized power in a 1990 coup, has seen his authority undermined by violence across the border in Sudan's Darfur. The president said his soldiers repelled the second attempt to overthrow him in a month, but few in this volatile African country believe the struggle is over.

Residents of the outlying neighborhoods that felt the brunt of the attack moved into the center of the city late Thursday in anticipation of another offensive.

In just three days, the rebel United Front for Change charged 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) in pickups from their bases on the border with Sudan's troubled Darfur region and came close to capturing the National Assembly building in the center of the capital, N'djamena.

Government troops pushed them back and were holding 20 rebel prisoners on the grounds of the assembly building. Soldiers were sweeping through the city rounding up rebels who were scattered in the fighting and were being turned by residents.

A Web site that said it represented the rebels reported that rebel troops were on the move to the north and east of N'djamena, but provided no other details. There was also a statement claiming that rebel forces now controlled two towns near the Sudanese border, Adre and Am-Timam.

The raid showed how little control Deby wields in the countryside in a tumultuous part of the world where rebel groups cruise across the desert at will. The attack also underscored concerns that the civil war in Darfur where rebels and government militias also attack with impunity has destabilized the entire region, reports AP.


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