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35 dead as herdsmen, farmers clash in Chad

Thirty-five people have been killed in fighting in recent days between semi-nomadic herders and farmers in southeastern Chad, where clashes between the two communities are common, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The deaths occurred in the province of Salamat, where farmers were attacked when they encountered an illegal roadblock, provincial secretary-general Mara Maad told AFP.

One farmer was killed and two were injured, he said.

The farmer blamed local cattle herders and launched an attack on them on Monday, prompting the authorities to send in troops, who restored order the same day, he said.

The “inter-community clashes have caused 35 deaths, including a soldier,” Maad said.

Herders and sedentary farmers have a long and troubled history in southern Chad, where weapons abound and violence often flares after cattle destroy crops.

Thanks to the region’s relatively mild climate for the Sahel, its vegetation is lush, and for centuries it has drawn in migratory herders from arid areas, many of them Arabs, for seasonal grazing.

In November, 22 people were killed in herder-farmer clashes in Kabbia, which is also in the south, while nearly 50 were killed in ethnic conflicts across Chad in December and January.

In a speech on December 31, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno said he was “distressed” and “dismayed” by deadly clashes that had occurred in recent months.

Political scientist Evariste Ngarlem Tolde told AFP such clashes had taken on “worrying proportions” in recent years.

According to him, “local authorities have a flagrant bias since they keep herds, which doesn’t help amicable settlement of these inter-community conflicts.”

AFP

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