Chadian opposition leader dies in gun exchange, state prosecutor says

The announcement comes a day after heavy gunfire erupts in N’Djamena near the headquarters of Yaya Dillo’s party.

Chad referendum
Members of the security forces patrol Chad's capital, N'Djamena, after the battlefield death of former President Idriss Deby on April 26, 2021 [File: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Chadian opposition politician Yaya Dillo has been killed during an exchange of fire with security forces, state prosecutor Oumar Mahamat Kedelaye says at a news conference.

Dillo was among several people killed when he led an attack on the National State Security Agency (ANSE) in the capital, N’Djamena, the prosecutor said on Thursday.

Heavy gunfire was heard on Wednesday in N’Djamena near the headquarters of Dillo’s Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF), a witness told the Reuters news agency. The shooting erupted after several people were killed in earlier clashes near the ANSE building.

The attack underscored the tenuous situation in the Central African country ahead of a presidential election scheduled for May 6. Dillo, 49, was current President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno’s cousin and a strong contender in the polls.

Dillo died “where he had retreated, at the headquarters of his party”, Abderaman Koulamallah, the Chadian communications minister told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

“He didn’t want to surrender and fired on law enforcement,” he said.

Dillo “died assassinated by the Republican Guard”, PSF spokesperson Evariste Gabnon said hours after his death was announced.

His body was handed over to his family for burial, AFP reported.

“The death of opposition leader Yaya Dillo followed a siege on his house and the houses of other top officials of the opposition Socialist Party Without Borders in N’Djamena on Wednesday,” Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris said, reporting from Abuja in neighbouring Nigeria.

“But before then, there was a gunfight on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning while officials say they confronted armed elements belonging to the opposition after they tried to assassinate the president of the country’s top court.”

Dillo was accused of leading the attack on the National State Security Agency, but he had denied any involvement.

Speaking to AFP, Dillo dismissed the allegation as a “lie” and said it was politically motivated.

Dillo also condemned accusations by the government of a PSF-coordinated “assassination attempt against the president of the Supreme Court”, which Dillo called “staged”.

The violence flared amid tensions ahead of the election that could return Chad to constitutional rule three years after military authorities seized power.

On Thursday, there was still a heavy military presence in the capital and access to the presidential palace was blocked.

“There is heavy presence of security forces, also around the headquarters of the opposition Socialist Party Without Borders,” Idris said.

Internet access, which was blocked a day earlier, still had not been restored, a Reuters witness added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies