Chadian Army repels incursion of Libyan rebels into gold-mining region
London, Feb. 20, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Chadian army says its soldiers beat back a rebel incursion into a volatile northern gold-mining region from neighbouring Libya.
The rebel group, the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), acknowledged the deadly fighting, saying its forces had conducted a “strategic pullback”.
The clash took place early Wednesday near Kouri Bougoudi, a town at the most northern point of the Tibesti Region on the Libya border. The area is in the Tibesti massif, a mountainous gold-mining region where lawlessness and trafficking are endemic.
CCMSR rebels “attacked army positions at 6 am,” army spokesperson Colonel Azem Bermendoa Agouna told AFP.
The army “routed them and is currently pursuing them,” he said.
A senior army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 40 rebels were killed and 38 captured, while three Chadian soldiers were also killed in the fighting.
The CCMSR’s spokesperson, Ali Saleh Hassaballah, reached by phone from Libreville, told AFP that about 50 soldiers had been killed, against the loss of only three rebels.
The starkly contrasting tolls could not be verified independently, as the zone is barred to journalists.
“After more than five hours of heavy fighting, we carried out a strategic pullback of about 30 km [20 miles] because we heard that army reinforcements were arriving,” Hassaballah added.
A gold miner in the area, contacted by AFP, said “the rebels were pushed back.”
Armed groups opposed to President Idriss Deby Itno, who has ruled Chad with an iron fist for nearly three decades, frequently make cross-border raids from Libya.
Created in 2016, the CCMSR describes itself as a political-military opposition movement with “several thousand” fighters.