Rebel Attacks in Northern Chad Add a New Layer to Deby’s ‘Gathering Storm’

Rebel Attacks in Northern Chad Add a New Layer to Deby’s ‘Gathering Storm’
Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, left, listens to Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, before a working session of the African Union in Nouakchott, Mauritania, July 3, 2018 (AP photo by Ludovic Marin).

About a month ago, a fresh wave of violence kicked off in northern Chad when rebels crossed over from neighboring Libya and staged an attack on a border post in the region of Kouri Bougri. According to one report, the rebels, who arrived on vehicles equipped with machine guns, managed to kill at least three soldiers while possibly kidnapping others.

A security source, speaking to Radio France Internationale, initially downplayed the significance of the incursion, saying it had been perpetrated by common criminals. But the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, or CCMSR, a Chadian rebel group that formed in 2016 and boasts 4,500 fighters from the Goran ethnic group, quickly claimed responsibility. Less than two weeks later, the CCMSR said it had carried out a second attack in the same area, though Chad’s government denied this.

The threat posed by insurgent groups in northern Chad is no secret. Militants opposed to President Idriss Deby have gravitated to southern Libya in recent years, taking advantage of the lawlessness that has prevailed there since the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi. During a visit to N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, in May, Mohamad Taher Siala, the foreign affairs minister for the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, warned that rebels had been able to establish training bases in Libya. This puts them within easy striking distance of northern Chad, a region that Chad’s government has struggled to exert control over.

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