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Chad Says Its Forces Killed 402 Libyans

March 22, 1987|From Times Wire Services

N'DJAMENA, Chad — The military high command reported Saturday that its forces killed 402 Libyan soldiers and captured 74 in fighting near the Libyan air base of Ouadi Doum in northern Chad.

The report brings to 786 the number of Libyan soldiers reported killed in a 72-hour period of fighting, which a military communique described as "decisive and fierce."

The communique said government forces also shot down two aircraft--a transport helicopter and an Italian-made Marchetti fighter aircraft--at the outpost of Bir Koura, about 28 miles south of the Libyan airfield, on Friday.

Chad's official government radio said two Libyan columns assigned to protect the Ouadi Doum defenses were "entirely routed" by President Hissen Habre's troops.

However, in Tripoli, Libya, a spokesman for Libyan-backed Chadian rebels dismissed the government's assertions.

Facho Balaam, a spokesman for the Transitional Government of National Unity, described the N'Djamena government's reports of a major victory near Ouadi Doum as "ridiculous."

Defections Reported

Balaam said that 713 government troops had defected to the rebel side during a battle Friday near Namoussa, between the northern oases of Faya-Largeau and Fada. Balaam, quoting a rebel statement, said the rest of the Chadian troops were either killed or put to flight.

There was no way to independently verify the conflicting reports.

Military analysts in Chad said the fighting around Ouadi Doum could be the prelude to a government offensive on Faya-Largeau, Habre's home, but controlled by Libya since August, 1983.

On Friday, the N'Djamena government said its forces had killed 384 Libyan soldiers and captured 47 others when fighting broke out Thursday at Bir Koura.

According to the latest military communique, Chadian forces in Friday's encounter also destroyed 14 Soviet-made T-55 tanks, eight armored personnel carriers and two jeeps equipped with ground-to-ground missiles.

Equipment Seized

They seized a wide assortment of military equipment, including six T-55 tanks, 15 armored personnel carriers, five tank-carriers, 17 trucks, and three jeeps mounted with guns, the statement said.

Meanwhile, in Khartoum, the Sudanese newspaper Al Siassa, quoting high-ranking political sources, said Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi will soon hold peace talks with Habre.

Sudan has been trying for weeks to mediate between its two North African neighbors.

The newspaper said the meeting had been arranged by Sudanese government officials. It did not provide details.

The governments of Libya and Chad did not comment on the report, but a Sudanese official denied the report.

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