Chad: October 1, 2002

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Central African Republic (CAR) authorities officially denied that Libyan troops stationed in CAR since the May 2002 uprising had attacked Chad. The statement came after AFP reported that Libya was preparing to repatriate its troops from CAR. Relations between CAR and Chad have been troubled since November 2001, when former CAR Army Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize and his supporters fled to Chad after fighting broke out in CAR's capital Bangui. A Libyan detachment had been in Bangui since then.

Clashes have been reported in the border localities of Kabo, Batangafo and Moyenne Sido in CAR, as well as in Sido and Tissi in Chad. During the night of 19-20 September, fighting broke out along the CAR-Chad common border, in the Chadian village of Tizi. The Chadians claimed to have killed one attacker, wounded another and captured more, who said they had come from the Central African town of Birao (about 600 miles north east of the capital, Bangui and close to the Sudan border). 

CAR army chief of staff General Ernest Betibangui denied his troops involvement and attributed the attack to Sudanese poachers, reputed for their violence in the region. CAR military authorities claim that the region is being devastated by Sudanese poachers, who disguise themselves as cattle herders and then attack villages; killing, burning and looting. The Sudanese embassy in CAR considers the conflict to simply be a dispute among rival tribes. The CAR deployed a military detachment to Gordil (600 miles northeast of Bangui), but the poachers always avoid military patrols.

On 26 September, the Africa Rainforest and River Conservation (ARRC, a group of US conservationists) received permission from the CAR government to recruit and train an anti-poaching militia of 400 local men, to patrol 56,000 square miles of wilderness in the eastern region. This ridiculously small group will be authorized to shoot poachers and drive out marauding Sudanese poachers who are destroying the region's wildlife and terrorizing villagers. 

According to a National Geographic report, each year columns of up to 200 well-armed Sudanese poachers cross the border in pursuit of game animals no longer found in Sudan. After dividing into smaller groups, the poachers set fires to flush out animals, then shoot them and smoke the meat. Populations of elephants, giraffes, crocodiles, and lions have been reduced by more than 95 percent in the area, which was once known as the Serengeti of Central Africa. - Adam Geibel

 

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