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60 dead as anti-government protests intensify in Africa’s Chad

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At least 60 people have been killed in Chad, Africa, after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters. This happened during demonstrations in the Central African country against the two-year extension of interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby’s power.

Associated Press

Chad,UPDATED: Oct 21, 2022 04:41 AM IST

Chad’s general Mahamat Idriss Deby, the head of the military government, waves as he is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Nov. 12, 2021 (Photo: AP)

By Associated Press: Chadian security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the country’s two largest cities on Thursday, killing at least 60 people, the government spokesman and a mortuary official said.

Authorities have imposed a curfew following the violence that took place during demonstrations in the Central African nation against the two-year extension of interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby’s power.

Thursday’s turmoil was unprecedented in Chad, where the previous regime of Deby’s father, who ruled for more than three decades until his assassination last year, saw little public dissension.

France, the African Union and others were quick to condemn the security crackdown on the protesters.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa, called on Chadian authorities to “immediately cease the excessive use of force against protesters”.

“Authorities must take immediate steps to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings,” she said.

Chadian government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh said 30 people were killed in the capital N’Djamena. However, the organizers of the march put the toll higher, at 40, with many wounded by bullets as well. There was no independent confirmation of the figures given by the two parties.

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Another 32 protesters were killed in Chad’s second largest city, Moundou, according to an official at the city’s morgue. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case, said more than 60 people had been injured.

Other protests were held in the southern Chadian cities of Doba and Sarh.

These were the deadliest anti-government protests since Deby took over after his father’s murder 18 months ago. Officials said the late President Idriss Deby Itno was killed by rebels in April 2021 while visiting Chadian troops on the battlefield in the north of the country.

At the main reference hospital in the capital N’Djamena, overwhelmed doctors treated dozens of people with gunshot wounds. Some of the injured were taken to Liberty Hospital by army vehicles and showed signs of torture, witnesses said.

Witnesses say protesters began to whistle across the capital, N’Djamena, at 3 a.m. Police fired tear gas at the crowd, which continued to advance and their numbers grew. It was then that security forces opened fire, causing protesters to struggle to clear the dead from the scene amid the tear gas.

Among the dead was a Chadian journalist, Narcisse Oredje, who worked for CEFOD radio, and was hit by a bullet.

Amnesty International said it was not the first time Chadian security forces have fired on civilians, citing two other incidents in 2022 and 2021.

Such public displays of dissent were unheard of during Deby’s father’s reign, but several demonstrations have been held since his son became interim leader.

Mahamat Idriss Deby was named head of state after his father’s death instead of following the line of succession of the Chadian constitution. Opposition parties called the transfer a coup at the time, but later agreed to accept Deby as interim leader for 18 months.

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