US condemns incursion of Chad rebels
The United States condemned an incursion Thursday by Chadian rebels who crossed the border from neighboring Sudan and clashed with Chadian troops in a region crowded with refugees.
"The United States condemns the current attacks by Chadian rebels coming across the border from Sudan," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. "We support the security, stability and territorial integrity of Chad.
"We call on the rebels to desist from all offensive operations, renounce violence and enter into negotiations with the government of Chad to re-enter Chadian society," he added.
"We also call on the government of Sudan to disarm and demobilize any Chadian rebels on its territory now or in the future and urge their return to Chad."
Chad has accused Sudan of backing the rebel assault, which began with the ink barely dry on a Sunday peace pact between the fractious neighbors brokered in Doha by Qatar and Libya.
Wood's statement urged the Sudanese and Chadian governments to abide by the accord they signed in Qatar on May 3 as well as others to reduce tensions and normalize ties by ending support for rebel groups in their countries.
It recalled that the US special envoy for Sudan, Scott Gration, was in Khartoum and ready to work with the "relevant parties to end the 'proxy war' and help the two countries finally normalize ties."
The Chadian army, in a statement broadcast on national radio, claimed that 125 rebels and 21 soldiers were killed, 30 government troops wounded and 152 rebels taken prisoner during clashes near Am-Dam in eastern Chad.
But the rebels also claimed victory in a first direct confrontation that left aid agencies and traders fearing the worst.
Am-Dam is 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Goz Beida and more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Abeche, the two towns used as bases by most relief agencies working in eastern Chad to help 450,000 refugees and displaced people.
Peace between Chad and Sudan is regarded as essential to any lasting settlement to a six-year-old uprising in Sudan's western Darfur region.