‘Several killed’ in Chad foiled coup

Chad's President Idriss Deby. PHOTO | FILE 

A foiled coup attempt in Chad has left several people dead while a number of others have been arrested in connection with what the government described as a “destabilisation plot” in the landlocked central African country, police sources said Thursday.

A shootout broke out on the outskirts of the capital N’Djamena on Wednesday when security forces came to arrest the alleged conspirators, leaving “several dead and around 15 injured”, a police source said on condition of anonymity.

Although no official death toll was immediately available, some police sources spoke of six deaths, while others said eight were killed, “three of whom were security forces”.

The government serving under President Idris Deby Itno, who himself came to power in a 1990 coup, on Wednesday said a “small group” had been planning the coup for months while police and opposition sources said one of the detainees was an opposition lawmaker.

The situation appeared calm in the Chadian capital on Thursday, with residents going about their usual day-to-day activities normally.

Hard-won peace

“A small group of ill-intentioned individuals attempted to carry out a destabilisation plot against the institutions of the republic,” the government said in a statement Wednesday.

A police source said soldiers and civilians also took part in the alleged plot.

The government said the army had “neutralised” the group and that the arrested ringleaders had been handed over to prosecutors for investigation.

“This small group... had been conspiring for more than four months to jeopardise the country’s hard-won peace,” it said.

Between 2005 and 2010, the former French colony was wracked by civil war.

On Saturday, President Deby told Radio France Internationale that “mercenaries”, currently in Libya’s second largest city Benghazi, were trying to “regroup Chadians”.

A police source said that “several civilians and soldiers, including Saleh Makki,” an opposition lawmaker, had been arrested Monday.

Opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo said in an email to AFP that he received reports of “numerous” arrests in the capital N’Djamena and that “several sources” had confirmed to him that Mr Makki was among those arrested.

France on Thursday said it had noted the latest events in Chad “with concern”, and called on the country’s government and opposition to engage in “calm and constructive dialogue” with each other.

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