Chad is an oil-rich African nation that has become a key regional ally of the West in the fight against jihadists.
Veteran President Idriss Deby died from battle wounds sustained in the fight against rebels in the country’s north, the army said Tuesday, only a day after he was declared the winner of an April 11 election.
Here are key facts about the country:
– Landlocked –
Stretching from the Sahara desert of the inhospitable mountainous north bordering Libya to the fertile lowlands in the south, landlocked Chad is three times bigger than California in the United States.
Home to around 15 million people and scores of ethnic groups, just over half its population are Muslim with 35 per cent Christian and the rest animist.
– Multiple frontlines –
Chad faces military challenges on all of its borders.
In the west, in the region of Lake Chad, the army has been fighting the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram — which is allied to the Islamic State — since 2015.
Former colonial power France keeps troops in Chad and heads a multinational force based in N’Djamena since 2014 to combat Islamists across the Sahel region.
Chad is also a member of five-country regional military force battling jihadists that also includes Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.
Eastern Chad, on the border with Sudan, has seen conflicts between different ethnic groups.
Northern Chad is also unstable, little populated and difficult to control. Several Chadian rebel groups have set up their base in neighbouring southern Libya.
Fresh fighting erupted in the region after elections this month, drawing in Deby who died from injuries sustained fighting rebels.
The army said it had killed more than 300 rebels and captured 150 more in eight days of fighting this month.
– War history –
Chad has seen a succession of coups and rebellions since independence in 1960. It was wracked by civil war for three decades and has been invaded several time by Libya.
Idriss Deby Itno took power in December 1990 after ousting Hissene Habre, whom he had served as army chief.
Habre, dubbed “Africa’s Pinochet”, was sentenced by a special African court to life in jail in 2017 for crimes against humanity. More than 40,000 people are thought to have been murdered during his rule.
– Oil-rich and poor –
In 2003 Chad began to export oil to an Atlantic terminal through a pipeline built across neighbouring Cameroon.
It suffered badly from the plunge in the price of crude in 2014.
It is ranked as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world, with nearly two fifths of the population living below the internationally recognised poverty line.