Chad: Shooting Heard in Capital After Deadly Attack

Chadian capital Ndjamena .
28 February 2024

Gunfire has been reported in the Chadian capital, close to an opposition party headquarters. Earlier, several people are reported to have died in a clash near Chad's internal security agency headquarters.

Reports emerged of heavy gunfire in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, on Wednesday after fighting near the headquarters of the country's internal security agency turned deadly.

The violence comes ahead of a presidential election set to take place in May and June that could return the country to constitutional rule three years after the military seized power.

What we know so far

The sounds of gunfire came from close to the headquarters of the Socialist Party Without Borders opposition party (PSF).

The army was understood to have been subsequently deployed around the PSF offices. Meanwhile, all roads leading to the security agency headquarters were blocked.

A PSF official told the AFP news agency that Kalashnikov assault rifles and tear gas grenades had been used.

The PSF party is led by Yaya Dillo, who is both the cousin and a fierce opponent of Chad's transitional president, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno.

The party said its members and Torabi's relatives had gone to look for his body at the agency -- after reports that he had been shot dead -- when soldiers shot at them, causing several deaths.

Earlier attack blamed on opposition

A government statement claimed the state security offices had been attacked by PSF members, leading to several deaths.

The government said the attack came after PSF member Ahmed Torabi was arrested and accused of an assassination attempt against the president of the Supreme Court, Samir Adam Annour.

It added that the situation appeared to have "taken a dramatic turn" with "a deliberate attack by accomplices of this individual led by elements of the PSF."

However, the Chadian government said, "The perpetrators of this act have been arrested or are being sought and will be prosecuted."

Internet monitor Netblocks said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that internet connectivity in the country had been disrupted after the attack.

Deby Itno took power after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who came to power in a coup and ruled for three decades before being killed while fighting rebels in 2021.

The younger Deby Itno had promised to give power to civilians and organize elections within 18 months, but he went on to add another two years to the transition.

Deby Itno had told the African Union he would not run as president in the upcoming election, but a new constitution that allows him to do so was adopted after a mid-December referendum. Some suspect he will use the election as a means of legitimization before continuing the dynasty that his father started.

Chad is the last close partner that former colonial power France has in the Sahel region after the forced withdrawal of French troops from Mali in 2022, Burkina Faso in February last year and Niger in December. All three of those countries have since moved closer to Russia. Moscow has a strong presence in countries bordering Chad in the form of mercenaries from the Wagner private military group.

In December, Chad's Supreme Court approved the vote on a new constitution that critics say could help cement the power of junta leader Mahamat Idriss Deby.

rc/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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