Hundreds Killed in Attacks in Eastern Chad

Associated Press
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

N'DJAMENA, Chad, April 10 -- Sudanese Janjaweed militiamen killed as many as 400 people in the volatile eastern border region near Sudan, leaving an "apocalyptic" scene of mass graves and destruction, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.

The attacks took place March 31 in the border villages of Tiero and Marena, about 550 miles from Chad's capital, N'Djamena. Chadian officials initially said that 65 people had died but that the toll was certain to rise.

"Estimates of the number of dead have increased substantially and now range between 200 and 400," the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said. "Because most of the dead were buried where their bodies were found -- often in common graves owing to their numbers -- we may never know their exact number."

The attackers encircled the villages and opened fire, pursued fleeing villagers, robbed women and shot the men, UNHCR said. Many who survived the initial attack died later from exhaustion and dehydration, often while fleeing.

Sudan and Chad repeatedly have traded accusations of backing rebels in each other's countries, and both have denied the allegations. Both countries also have signed peace deals promising to stop the border fighting.

U.N. officials have warned of the possibility of increasing violence in the region where Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic meet. Fighting in Sudan's western Darfur region has left as many as 450,000 dead from violence and disease.

Sudanese leaders are accused of unleashing the pro-government Arab militia, the Janjaweed, which is blamed for widespread attacks and rapes against ethnic Africans.

On Monday, the Sudanese military said 17 of its soldiers were killed repelling a Chadian army raid on a Sudanese border town in western Darfur.

In a statement, Osman Mohamed al-Aghbash, a Sudanese army spokesman, said a Chadian army unit consisting of 140 trucks and seven armored vehicles crossed into Sudan and attacked For Baranga, a small town within several miles of the Chad border.

He said that the Sudanese army and police pushed the attackers back across the border but that 17 soldiers were killed and 40 wounded in the process.

Also Monday, Chad said it repelled an attack by rebels coming from the direction of Sudan. Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, the government spokesman, said eight Chadian soldiers were killed.

It was not clear whether the Sudanese and Chadian officials were talking about the same attack.

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