Thousands of civilians fled Chad's capital N'Djamena on Monday after rebels broke off a two-day assault but threatened a fresh attempt to topple President Idriss Deby.

Despite the fears of further attack, the riverside capital of the landlocked oil-producing central African state was relatively quiet. Vehicles filled with soldiers patrolled the city streets and army helicopters flew overhead.

Deby's government, reeling from the latest strike on the city in under two years, said it had beaten off more than 2,000 insurgents who stormed in on Saturday in armed pickup trucks.

The rebel attack, which Chad said was backed by Sudan, drew international condemnation. It forced the European Union to delay the deployment of a EU peacekeeping force to eastern Chad to protect refugees from the war in Sudan's Darfur region.

The U.N. Security Council urged the international community on Monday to support Chad's government against the rebels.

The government insisted it controlled the city. But the rebels, who denounce Deby's 18-year rule as corrupt and dictatorial, warned N'Djamena's population to flee their homes.

They said their withdrawal from the city late on Sunday was tactical and that they were regrouping for another attack. We're at the gates of the city, rebel spokesman Abderamane Koullamalah told Radio France International (RFI).

A Reuters TV correspondent who crossed into N'Djamena from Cameroon via the bridge over the Logone-Chari river saw 12 bodies, some in uniform, lying in the streets. There was also evidence of widespread looting of cars and homes.

Aid workers estimated several hundred people were injured.

Residents said they feared another rebel assault. Rebel fighters had gone from house to house in some areas, telling occupants to leave because they planned to attack again.


From the early hours of Monday, a flood of refugees carrying belongings and children streamed from N'Djamena into Cameroon over the Ngueli bridge.

Some were hurt, including a girl with a bullet wound in the back. Local Cameroon authorities estimated some 15,000 people had fled across the river to the small border town of Kousseri.

Chadian government ministers said N'Djamena was under the control of Deby's forces. The battle of N'Djamena is over, Foreign Minister Ahmat Allam-mi told French radio.

Chad says the rebels, who include some of Deby's former allies, are armed by Sudan. Khartoum denies this and in turn accuses the Chadians of supporting rebels in its Darfur region.

Rebel leader Timane Erdimi told RFI Deby's army practically no longer exists. But he said his fighters were turning to face pro-Deby Sudanese Darfuri rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), whom he said were coming to the president's aid.

Several leading Chadian opposition figures, including deputy Ngarlejy Yorongar and opposition coalition spokesman Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, were detained and taken away by government security forces on Sunday, family members said.

France, which has used its military contingent to evacuate at least 700 French and other foreign nationals from its former colony, has insisted it is neutral in the conflict.

But French President Nicolas Sarkozy said before the U.N. resolution was passed that French forces could intervene more directly if it was adopted.

Sarkozy has ordered French fighter jets to survey the border area with Sudan to ensure there is no foreign incursion.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the delay in the deployment of the EUFOR peace force to Chad was temporary.

An attack by anti-Deby forces on Sunday on the eastern border town of Adre opened a new front. Chad's army said it repulsed the assault by Sudanese army troops and rebels. The rebels said they took Adre but this could not be confirmed.

The current escalation is threatening the full and complete deployment of EUFOR -- putting the lives of civilians at further risk, Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Africa Program, said.