Security Forces Open Fire on Protesters in Chad, Killing at Least 50

Demonstrators had taken to the streets, demanding that the ruling military junta stick to its promises to hold elections.

Security forces in the Central African country shot and killed dozens of people protesting the decision by the junta to tear up its promises of a transition to democracy and extend its stay in power by at least two years. [Associated Press]


Security forces in the Central African country of Chad shot and killed dozens of people during protests that came in response to a decision by the junta to tear up its promises of a transition to democracy and extend its stay in power by at least two years.

Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo put the death toll at 50 on Thursday, but members of the opposition said the figure was closer to 70, and with hundreds more wounded, the toll was expected to rise.

The violent suppression of protests in the capital, Ndjamena, and the country’s second-largest city, Moundou, came amid a trend toward military rule in the region, where coups are a regular occurrence across the wide belt of Africa known as the Sahel and their plotters tend to announce long transitions.

Footage shared on social media showed hundreds of protesters — mostly young men — whooping, chanting and blowing whistles as they ran through the streets of Ndjamena to protest the Oct. 1 announcement that elections would be delayed.


By sundown, dozens of them were dead. In a photograph released by the news agency Agence France-Presse, a group of men stood solemnly around the body of one demonstrator, which lay on a concrete-covered drain alongside a paved road, covered with the red, yellow and blue Chadian flag. A lone pink flip-flop protruded from under its silky material.

By Friday morning, central Ndjamena was calm, its main intersections guarded by security forces, although there were reports of continuing clashes in some districts south of the capital, where many of the demonstrations were concentrated. There was a heavy military presence in those neighborhoods, with soldiers preventing residents from moving around, or even going to work.

A body was covered by a Chadian flag after the protests in Ndjamena. [Agence France-Presse | Getty Images]

Mr. Kebzabo was recently appointed prime minister after a national dialogue that brought together rebel groups, the military, civil society members, opposition parties and trade unions to talk about Chad’s future. He said the protesters were carrying guns and he described them as rebels — which the opposition denies.