Gunfire heard in east Chad after rebels end truce

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N'DJAMENA, Nov 26 (Reuters) Gunfire broke out today in eastern Chad near the border with Sudan's violent Darfur region after two Chadian rebel groups declared the end of a month-long ceasefire at the weekend, aid workers in the region said.

European Union peacekeepers are due to start deploying to the area in the coming weeks to protect humanitarian operations for around 400,000 Sudanese and Chadian refugees forced from their home by years of violence.

Abakar Tollimi, secretary general of leading rebel group Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), told Reuters by satellite phone he was too busy to talk, as gunfire and at least one heavier explosion echoed in the background.

Humanitarian staff reported hearing gunfire near the small towns of Forchana and Hadjer Hadid, a senior UN aid official in the eastern city of Abeche, said.

Aid staff in Forchana were staying in their residences, said the official, who asked not to be named.

Rebels briefly entered Hadjer Hadid on Saturday and exchanged fire with government forces.

REUTERS PD RK1657

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