Idriss Deby, Chad’s President, has announced that at least 37 people have been killed in inter-communal violence in the eastern province of Ouaddai.
The violence this week marks the latest outburst between the nomadic camel herders, many of whom are from the Zaghawa ethnic group, and sedentary farmers, from the Ouaddian community.
According to an eyewitness, fighting erupted in the Wadi Hamra district on Monday, after the discovery of a dead rancher. The witness reported this to the AFP news agency and wished to remain anonymous for his/her safety. The witness further stated that three more killings followed that discovery.
A local tribe leader reported further violence the following day at a nearby location. Officials stated that the communities clashed with firearms leading to the deaths of at least 25. One hospital source reported the death toll was as high as 44.
Addressing the violence President Deby stated that "the intercommunal conflict has become a national concern”. He blames his conflict partial on the influx of weapons from conflict zones in neighboring Libya, Central African Republic, and Sudan.
Deby reported that police forces sent to these incidents came under fire.
"Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people,”
He further stated that:
"The government has created special disarmament units. We take away the weapons, but the next day more arrive."
Deby has warned that the conflict has spread since the beginning of this year to previously peaceful regions and has hinted that military courts are needed to curb this unrest. This suggestion was denounced by the opposition leader.
Deby has been in power for close to three decades, there are legislative elections scheduled for the end of the month but they have been postponed several times since 2015.
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