Up to 30 people have died in clashes in eastern Chad between former rebels and militias of a different ethnic group, several sources reported [on] Wednesday.
"Since Monday our positions have been systematically attacked" by a militia of the Zaghawa ethnic group at Djimeze, close to the border with Sudan, said a senior member of the United Front for Change (FUC), adding that, besides the 30 dead, dozens had been injured.
The FUC was a rebel group, chiefly made up of members of the Tama ethnic community, opposed to the government of President Idriss Deby Itno, but in December its leader, Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim, threw his backing behind Deby. His forces are stationed in the Djimeze area.
The senior FUC member said that the militia attacking his men was made up of armed Zaghawa civilians and rebels from the Rally of Democratic Forces (RAFD), which is predominatly Zaghawa, and benefited from the "complicity of some elements in the Chadian army".
"It is a more a case of an intercommunal conflict," said a government source.
"This conflict is much more like a settling of scores between different communities living in the area," he added, declining to give casualty figures.
Several government sources said that the fighting might have its origins in the murder on Monday of five old men at a local market for unknown reasons by FUC members.
The acute tensions in the neighbouring Sudanese province of Darfur, where both Tama and Zaghawa also live, have spilled over in recent months to the Chadian side of the border and given rise to clashes.