The Chadian army has won a "decisive victory" over Sudan-based rebels in two days of clashes, officials say. President Idriss Deby Itno said Chad must now "re-evaluate relations" with its neighbour, adding that he would consider severing ties.
Chad scored a "decisive victory" over Sudan-based rebels during two days of fighting in the east of the Central African nation, Defence Minister Adoum Younousmi said Saturday.
"It is a decisive victory," he told AFP on his way out of an appearance on national television, adding it would take "two or three years" for the Sudan-based rebels to reconstitute themselves.
Also on Saturday, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno threatened to break off relations with Sudan in the aftermath of the fighting.
"The government must reevaluate relations between Sudan and Chad, and envisages -- if the situation does not evolve positively -- the rupture of these relations," he said in a speech at the presidential palace.
Deby also said he was considering "withdrawing confidence" in the African Union, and announced the shutdown of the Sudanese cultural centre and the takeover of schools in Chad financed by Sudan.
There were no reports of fighting on Saturday, after the government claimed Friday that 225 rebels and 22 soldiers had been killed in clashes on Thursday and Friday south of the main eastern city of Abeche.
"Our strategy involved luring the mercenaries as far as possible from their bases, taking them on to ground from where they could not fall back to their bases after a skirmish," he said on television.
"There were many fugitives, and about 60 (vehicles) scattered in the bush. We are continuing our mopping-up operations as far as the (Sudanese) border. With the deployment in place, few can escape."
"Our victory is also due to the professionalisation of the army and our equipment," he added.
A French military source said Itno had considerably beefed up the armed forces since a rebel offensive in February last year came close to overthrowing him.
Younousmi estimated that the "mercenaries" -- the government's term for the rebels -- numbered 3,000 to 4,000 combattants, with 300 to 400 vehicles. Rebel sources earlier told AFP that they had at least twice that number of vehicles.
Date created : 2009-05-09