Rebels in Chad capture capital

Chad's capital, N'Djamena, fell to the rebel troops of former Defense Minister Hissein Habre, French officials reported Monday. The rebels met little resistance from troops loyal to President Goukhouni Woddei. There were no reports on the whereabouts of the President.

The fall marked the culmination of two years of fighting between Mr. Habre's Armed Forces of the North (FAN) and government troops.

Mr. Woddei had resisted pressure from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to negotiate with his former ally as the rebel troops advanced steadily toward the capital of the former French colony over the past seven months.

The Armed Forces of the North, which are supported by Egypt and the Sudan, said they broke through the last government defenses at the town of Massaguet, north of the capital, on Saturday and surrounded N'Djamena. They had launched their offensive from the northeast after Libya withdrew its forces from Chad at Mr. Woddei's request.

The OAU, with French backing, sent a three-nation force of about 2,000 men into Chad to try to keep the peace after the Libyan departure. But the force proved ineffective as a deterrent to the well-trained guerrillas.

French officials said it was unclear whether the guerrillas had consolidated their hold on the capital, and they did not exclude the chances of further fighting.

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