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1 Mar, 2024 09:30

Chad opposition leader killed in gun battle

The Sahel nation’s military government had accused Yaya Dillo of leading a deadly attack on a state security agency
Chad opposition leader killed in gun battle

Chadian opposition figure Yaya Dillo, who was also the cousin of the Sahel nation’s transitional president, Mahamat Idriss Deby, has been killed in a clash with security forces, authorities announced on Thursday.

The military government accused the leader of the opposition Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF) of leading an armed raid on the National State Security Agency (ANSE) on Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of an unspecified number of people.

State prosecutor Oumar Mahamat Kedelaye told reporters that Dillo was among several people killed when he led the attack on the ANSE.

Earlier on Wednesday, Dillo had denied involvement in the attack, with his last Facebook update announcing that soldiers had surrounded him and others at the PSF headquarters in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena. He also reported that PSF finance secretary Ahmed Torabi, whom the government claimed had been arrested for attempting to assassinate a Supreme Court president, had been shot and killed on Tuesday.

The PSF’s general secretary told Reuters that soldiers had opened fire outside the ANSE building on a group of party members who had gone there to retrieve Torabi’s body.

Heavy gunfire was reported in N’Djamena, near Dillo’s main party office on Wednesday, following the internal security agency headquarters clashes. The opposition PSF headquarters was later cordoned off, according to Reuters.

Chadian Communication Minister Abderaman Koulamallah had said the situation was completely under control, with arrests made and others being sought.

On Thursday, Koulamallah told the AFP news agency that the opposition figure had died “where he had retreated, at the headquarters of his party.” 

“He didn’t want to surrender and fired on law enforcement,” Koulamallah added.

The violence comes after the Chadian electoral agency announced on Tuesday that presidential elections would be held in May, with a possible runoff in June, to return the former French colony to civilian rule after three years of military control.

Dillo, an outspoken critic of the Central African nation’s interim ruler, Mahamat Idriss Deby, had planned to run for president. Deby has been the leader of the military government since his father, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed while fighting rebels in 2021 after ruling the landlocked country for three decades.

On Tuesday, Dillo issued a statement warning the US government and the European Union not to fund Deby’s “illegal” election campaign. He said any such aid for the ruling MPS party (Mouvement patriotique du salut) would be interpreted by Chadians as an approval of the “dictatorship” in the country.