AFRICA UPDATE

Chad rebellion winds down

France on Jan. 7 began withdrawing troops sent to Chad when rebels threatened the African republic's capital, N'Djamena, last week, an Army spokesman said.

The 120 paratroopers who flew back to France were among 450 men sent to reinforce Paris's 1,200-man permanent garrison in Chad and bolster the central African country's French-allied government. The decision to withdraw the paratroopers was taken after Chad government troops crushed the rebellion by forces loyal to deposed President Hissene Habre. French forces did not take part in the fighting.

French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas announced the withdrawal on Jan. 5, saying the government of Idriss Deby, who toppled Mr. Habre in December 1990, had the situation under control. Mr. Deby, who has promised to introduce multiparty democracy in the vast and politically unstable country, had already been the target of an October coup attempt in which 30 people died.

The rebellion in western Chad of the past few days by a force originally estimated at 3,000 strong appeared to be over, radio reports said on Jan. 6. Somali conflict simmers

A United Nations envoy said on Jan. 6 that the weekend murder by masked gunmen of a United Nations doctor in northern Somalia was planned. UN officials said Dr. Martinka Pumpalova, a Bulgarian pediatrician working for the UN Children's Fund, was killed and three people were wounded when three gunmen in uniform fired AK-47 assault rifles at them in the port of Bossaso.

"This could do great harm to the people of Somalia," UN Undersecretary-General James Jonah told reporters after a three-day peace mission to war-torn Somalia.

No motives have been pinpointed for any of the killings but UN spokesman Francois Giuliani in New York said, "Evidently they don't want the UN in Somalia."

Mr. Jonah apparently failed in his mission to try to end a power struggle between warlords Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi in which up to 20,000 people have been killed or wounded in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, since Nov. 17.

The UN had recently withdrawn relief workers from most parts of Somalia because of hazardous security conditions but decided to send them back. (Relief crisis, Page 7.)

Somalia was first plunged into anarchy when guerrillas ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre from Mogadishu a year ago and then turned to fighting each other.

Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid, on a visit to Sudan, called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Somalia to pave the way for national reconciliation, the Sudanese news agency SUNA reported on Jan. 6.

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