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88 Retreating Libya Troops Killed, 14 Seized, Chad Says

March 29, 1987|United Press International

N'DJAMENA, Chad — Chadian troops cut down retreating Libyan soldiers, killing 88 and taking 14 prisoner after gaining control of Col. Moammar Kadafi's last stronghold in northern Chad, the government said Saturday.

A statement from Chad's military high command said Chadian troops Friday intercepted a convoy of 300 Libyan transport vehicles fleeing northward from Faya-Largeau, which the Chadian army had taken control of earlier in the day.

In the ensuing battle, southeast of Zouar in the Tibesti Mountains in northwest Chad, the forces of President Hissen Habre killed 88 Libyans, destroyed four tanks and captured some weaponry, the military said.

State-run Chad radio said that after the fall of Faya-Largeau, Libyan warplanes began bombing the former Libyan air base at Ouadi Doum, 94 miles northeast of Faya-Largeau, as well as the northeastern Chadian military garrison of Fada, captured Jan. 2 from Libya. Chad took control of Ouadi Doum in a fierce two-hour battle that left 1,269 Libyan troops dead.

Bombing of the towns continued Saturday, the radio said.

Kadafi's virtual ouster from northern Chad, which he had controlled since 1983, has raised the prospect of unifying the central African country in peace for the first time in more than 20 years.

But Kadafi has not given up. He said in a Libyan television broadcast that hostilities in Chad will continue as long as French forces remain in the country and until two rebel leaders are allowed to join the N'Djamena government.

"As long as this movement continues to fight for the liberation of Chad we will continue to stand by its side with all force and firmness, whatever the battles, however long the conflict and whatever the alliance between the colonialists, the reactionaries and their agents," Kadafi said.

France has supported its former colony with military equipment and logistical aid, though the estimated 2,000 French troops in southern Chad have not been involved in combat. The United States has provided $15 million in military equipment.

Kadafi has not admitted that his troops are in northern Chad, contending that the fighting there is a civil conflict between rival groups.

One of the rebel leaders he mentioned, former President Goukouni Oueddei, broke with Kadafi last fall and the other, Acheikh Ibm Oumar, has been in Algiers with Goukouni in the last few days holding peace talks with Chadian government emissaries.

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