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French warplanes strike armed convoy crossing Chad-Libya border

France's air force carried out the strikes together with Chad's military [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2019

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An armed group was halted in its advance into Chadian territory when French fighter jets struck the convoy.

An armed group crossing into northern Chad from Libya was halted when French warplanes struck the convoy of 40 pickups twice, France's military said on Monday.

In a statement, the military said that Mirage 2000 fighters intervened "together with the Chadian army" to "halt the hostile advance and disperse the column", which had crossed deep into Chadian territory.

The warplanes are based near N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, as part of France's Barkhane counter-terrorism force in the Sahel.

"The column had been spotted at least 48 hours beforehand," armed forces spokesman Patrik Steiger told AFP.

The Chadian airforce carried out strikes to try to repel it before asking the French to intervene, he said.

On Sunday morning, French planes made low warning passes over the column but it continued to advance, triggering a decision to scramble more fighters, which carried out two strikes at around 6pm Paris time.

Steiger said the group had crossed 400 kilometres of Chadian territory before being halted "between Tibesti and Ennedi" in the northwest.

He did not identify which armed group they belonged to.

Chad's arid north is sparsely populated and home to several rebel groups involved in people trafficking between Chad and neighbouring states Sudan, Niger and Libya.

The Chadian military has in recent year carried out several airstrikes in the desert region against Libya-based rebels.

A myriad of militias, jihadi groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos that has followed the 2011 NATO-backed ousting of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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