(CNN) Chad’s long-serving President Idriss Deby has died from injuries sustained in clashes with rebels, the army said in a surprise announcement Tuesday, plunging a volatile region deeper into crisis.
Army spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna told state TV said Deby — a longtime Western ally in efforts to quell Islamist militias in north Africa — died “as a result of his injuries on the front line.” Reuters said Deby had been visiting troops fighting rebels in the north of the country.
The announcement came a day after it was announced that Deby, who had been in power for 30 years, was projected to win a sixth consecutive term in elections held earlier this month.
Rebels, who have been seeking to oust Deby since 2016, had claimed a number of victories in the past week and clashes were reported in the north of the country at the weekend.
Rebels of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad — known in French as Front Pour l’Alternance et La Concorde au Tchad (FACT) — said Friday it had overrun a military garrison in Gouri. The claim was denied by the government, which instead said the rebels had been defeated.