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Chad Deadly Clashes Protest Junta


Anti-government demonstrators set a barricade on fire during clashes in N'Djamena, Chad, Thursday Oct. 20, 2022.

UPDATED TO INCLUDE NEW DEATH TOLL, UN REACTION: Clashes erupted in the Chadian capital N'Djamena on Thursday between police and hundreds of demonstrators at a banned protest over the ruling junta's grip on power.

Chadian Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo on Thursday updated the death toll from nationwide fights between protesters and security forces to "around 50" and announced an overnight curfew.

Earlier, Chadian government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh said 30 people were dead in the capital, N’Djamena. Another 32 protesters were killed in Chad’s second-largest city, Moundou, according to an official in the city’s morgue who spoke the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, raising the death toll to at least 60 people. More than 60 people were also wounded, the official said.

The deaths mainly occurred in the capital N'Djamena and the cities of Moundou and Koumra, he said, adding that the night-time curfew would remain in place until the "total restoration of order" in the hotspots of unrest.

The violence comes on the heels of a national forum organized by strongman Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno that extended his junta's stay in power.

The demonstration was called to mark the date when the military had initially promised to hand over power -- a spell that has been extended for another two years.

Palls of black smoke could be seen in some areas and the crack of teargas grenades could be heard.

Barricades were set up in several districts and tires were set alight in the main avenues to block traffic.

"They're firing on us. They are killing our people," Succes Masra, whose Transformers party was among groups that had called the protest, said on Twitter.

The AFP reporter there saw a body covered with the Chadian flag and surrounded by several demonstrators in one avenue.

"We deplore lethal use of force against protesters in Chad," the UN rights office said in a tweet, urging transitional authorities to "ensure safety and protection of human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".

"Reported violations must be investigated. We call for calm and all sides to show restraint."

Deby's junta had originally declared it would restore civilian rule after 18 months in power and he initially promised not to take part in elections that would follow.

But as the 18-month deadline neared, a nationwide forum staged by Deby reset the clock.

On October 1, it approved a new 24-month timeframe for holding elections.

It named Deby "transitional president" and declared he could be a candidate in the poll.

The 38-year-old five-star general took over in April 2021 after his iron-fisted father, Idriss Deby Itno, in power for three decades, was killed during an operation against rebels.