The President of Chad, Idriss Deby, has been killed in combat fighting rebels on the front line at the northern border with Libya.
The Daily Mail reports that Deby, a former military commander, had secured victory in a landslide election on Monday. He fell while fighting rebels just hours after winning his sixth term in office.
Deby, who ruled over Chad for over three decades, “breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield,” said a spokesman for the military on Tuesday. He added that Deby was commanding his army as it fought against rebels during a major incursion to the north of the country on election day.
Deby was considered a key ally in the West’s anti-Islamic jihadist campaign in recent decades, but was known to rule the country with an iron fist.
Following his death, the Chad military said that a military council set by the President’s son, 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, will replace him.
Despite his death, the Chad military claimed a “great victory” in its battle against rebels from neighbouring Libya. The military says it killed over 300 insurgents while sustaining only five losses in its own ranks after eight days of fighting.
Deby would have been one of the world’s longest-surviving leaders, after claiming 80 per cent of the recent vote. During his campaign, he promised to bring peace and security to the region, an effort undermined by the rebels.
Despite its victories against rebels, the U.S. Embassy on Saturday ordered its non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in the nation's capital of N'Djamena. Britain has also called on its citizens to leave.
According to the Daily Mail, the rebels belong to the so-called Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which is based in Libya.