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Chad, Libya Declare Truce in Territorial War

September 12, 1987|Associated Press

N'DJAMENA, Chad — Libya and Chad announced a truce in their territorial war Friday, but it was soured almost immediately by accusations and denials of new Libyan air raids in Chad.

The cease-fire, sponsored by the Organization of African Unity, began at midday, but Chadian radio reported new Libyan bombings. Libya said its planes struck only in the morning.

According to Chad's reports, Libyan aircraft raided Wour in northwestern Chad and the north central town of Ounianga Kebir on Friday morning, then returned in the afternoon to bomb Bardai, a village near Wour.

Says Deadline Observed

JANA, the official Libyan news agency, quoted "informed sources" as saying the last bombing run ended 15 minutes before the deadline.

A statement issued in N'Djamena said Chad accepted the cease-fire and Libyan radio, monitored in Cyprus, said Col. Moammar Kadafi's regime also would observe it.

Kadafi has had military forces in northern Chad for years to support rebels fighting President Hissen Habre's government, but Chadian soldiers have nearly driven them out in an eight-month campaign.

Chad said the truce does not mean agreement on ownership of the disputed Aozou border region, 43,000 square miles of desert believed to be rich in minerals. Habre's government called on Chadians to remain vigilant and mobilized during the truce and requested an immediate meeting of the OAU committee charged with mediation.

Libya annexed the Aozou Strip in 1973 under a 1935 treaty between France and Italy, then the colonial powers in Chad and its northern neighbor, respectively.

An OAU statement said President Kenneth D. Kaunda of Zambia, current chairman of the 50-nation Organization of African Unity, began negotiating the truce Wednesday.

Kaunda said he had called a meeting of the special OAU committee in the conflict that probably would be held in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, on Sept. 24 or 25.

Civil war has plagued Chad almost continuously since independence in 1960, but it became a conflict with Libya when rebels began changing sides a year ago.

Government forces routed the Libyans in the northeastern desert outpost of Fada and followed with a victory in March at the Libyan air base at Ouadi Doum. That precipitated the fall of the Faya-Largeau oasis, administrative capital of northern Chad.

Chadian forces captured the town of Aozou, administrative center of the region, on Aug. 8 but lost it again three weeks later.

Last Saturday, Chadian troops thrust into southern Libya and reportedly destroyed an air base 60 miles north of the Aozou Strip. It was the first foray by Chad into Libya.

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