Heavy fighting has been raging in N'djamena, the battered capital of Chad, despite a truce signed earlier this month (April 1) by the rival armies fighting for power.
SV President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo out of aircraft at N'djamena airport in Chad and greeted by French Ambassador to Chad, M. Marcel Beaux
SV & CU President Goukouni Oueddei of Chad (wearing robes and white scarf) welcomes President Eyadema and introduces his officials (2 shots)
LV PAN EXTERIOR President Goukouni's house
CU INTERIOR The two presidents seated
SV PAN Chad Foreign Minister seated with two generals wearing civilian clothes
SV & CU Injured people being carried to French military base hospital (2 shots)
CU PAN Injured lying in beds on floor
GV Citizens of N'djamena fleeing with possessions by fording River Chari towards Mongo
SV President Eyadema runs down sand dune on to beach (2 shots)
CU Wounded refugee in boat
SV & CU President Eyadema and party crossing River Chari in canoes with refugees fording river with their possessions (3 shots)
SV & CU President Eyadema met by Red Cross officials on beach
SCU PAN Defence Minister Hissene Habre walks forward and greets President Eyadema and his party and leads them into his house
CU INTERIOR President Eyadema and Habre seated talking
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Background: Heavy fighting has been raging in N'djamena, the battered capital of Chad, despite a truce signed earlier this month (April 1) by the rival armies fighting for power. Forces loyal to President Goukouni Oueddei, and his main opponent, rebel Defence Minister Hissene Habre, were reported on Sunday (13 April) to be pounding each other's positions with heavy artillery fire. In an interview published in the French magazine "Paris Match" on Wednesday (16 April) President Goukouni said he was considering an aid offer from the neighbouring Libyan Jamahiriyah.
SYNOPSIS: The President of Togo, Mr. Gnassingbe Eyadema, flew into N'djamena on April the fifth as the guns of the two armies fell silent after two of fighting. He was welcomed by the French Ambassador to Chad, Marcel Beaux as he arrived to try for a ceasefire and a return to talks between President Goukouni and Mr. Habre.
The Togolese President also was met by the leader of one of the opposing Moslem groups, President Goukouni, and they began talks about a truce between the rival armies. Chad has been in an almost continual state of civil was since it gained independence from France in 1960. For much of that time the fighting has been between the Moslems in the north and Christian forces in the south. But the present conflict is between rival Moslem groups, one led by President Goukouni and the other by Defence Minister Habre.
Red Cross officials estimated on Sunday (13 April) that about 1,000 people have been killed and 2,500 wounded as the present battle entered its fourth week. French doctors operating in emergency field hospitals said they'd never seen so many seriously wounded people. The fighting has been centred on a gendarmerie barracks which is in President Goukouni's hands, near a French air base where 1,000 French paratroopers and commandos are housed.
Refugees from the war have been crossing the River Chari to find safety in a large refugee camp in neighbouring Cameroun. President Eyadema also crossed the river -- which separates the two warring factions -- on his peace-making visit to Defence Minister Habre on the eastern side of N'djamena. He took his trip in a dug-out canoe as it was impossible to cross the battle lines. Mr. Eyadema came to N'djamena on his own initiative although France, the former colonial power in Chad, and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) later gave him their support.
Rebel Defence Minister Habre met the Togolese President at his headquarters to discuss details of the ceasefire. The truce was signed on Tuesday (8 April) between the two opposing leaders, but it was short lived. Shelling and bombing started again the next day after a quiet night when it was hoped the ceasefire would hold.
President Giscard d'Estaing of France has ordered his troops in Chad to observe a strict neutrality in the conflict. Their only function, he declared, would be to help enforce a ceasefire if requested by a stable central government -- a condition that seemed nearly impossible.