India concerned at safety of its nationals in Chad

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (UNI) India today expressed concern at the safety and security of its nationals in the Central African Republic of Chad which has been witnessing fighting over the past few days.

In a communication to the Chadian Foreign Ministry, the Indian Ambassador to the Central African country also urged the government of that country to take adequate steps for the safety and security of the Indian nationals, official sources said here.

According to 2001 figures, there were about 125 People of Indian Origin (PIOs) living in Chad.

There are also about 50 Indian nationals working in various oil refinery projects in Chad and involved in trade.

An oil-rich country and a former French colony, it has sought cooperation with India in oil exploration.

Chad has been witnessing fighting since last week between government troops and rebels who are advancing towards the capital N'Djamena.

The rebels called on Chadian President Idriss Deby to share power with them or face attack. Subsequently the attack took place about 100 km from the capital N'Djamena.

Many countries have condemned such threats by rebels.

The African Union (AU) condemned such threats while European Union (EU) diplomats gathered in neighbouring Ethiopia for a meeting to discuss the situation in Chad.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also discussed the situation with President Deby. President Deby reportedly declined President Sarkozy's offer for help.

There were also reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had brokered a ceasefire between government troops and rebels. However, the reports were denied by officials in Chad.

Meanwhile, China evacuated about 200 of its nationals from the embattled country while fighting threatened to intensify.

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