N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – At least two people were killed after security forces went to arrest Chad’s opposition candidate Yaya Dillo at his home on Sunday morning, Dillo and the government said.
Dillo, who plans to run against President Idriss Deby in a presidential election in April, told Reuters he was attacked at home by members of the presidential guard and that five family members were killed, including his mother.
The government said in a statement that security forces went to Dillo’s home to arrest him after he refused to respond to two judicial mandates and were met with armed resistance. It did not say what the mandates were concerning.
Two people were killed and five wounded in the ensuing fight, including three policemen, it said.
Internet has been cut in the capital N’Djamena since early Sunday morning, said a Reuters witness.
Internet monitor NetBlocks said Internet disruption in the central African country was ongoing. Real-time data showed national connectivity was down to 60% of ordinary levels since 9:30 am local time (0830 GMT).
Dillo said his gate was crushed by an armoured vehicle and his house has been surrounded by government forces since the incident.
Videos shared on Twitter showed a Chadian military tank moving on a house, while a crowd pelted it with objects. Another video showed several similar armoured vehicles lining a street. Reuters has not verified the videos.
Dillo is a formal rebel leader who fought against Deby in 2006 before joining his government and becoming a minister. More recently, he served as Chad’s representative to the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
He is one of 16 people who have announced they will run against Deby in April’s election.
Deby, who has been in power since 1990, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that reinstated term limits but could let him stay in power until 2033.
Hundreds took to the streets earlier this month to protest his candidacy in the upcoming election.
Deby has faced strikes and protests in recent years over economic woes caused by low oil prices and armed rebellions in the north, but has drawn on his effective control of state media and institutions to maintain political dominance.
Chad is a key ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants in West and Central Africa.
(Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Nellie Peyton and Bate Felix; Editing by Philippa Fletcher, Raissa Kasolowsky and Jane Merriman)