Fierce fighting is said to have claimed many lives in the Central African state of Chad as rebel forces seek to overthrow Idriss Deby, Chad's president. Thousands are understood to be fleeing the capital N'Djamena.

For now, the rebels say they have withdrawn from the city to allow civilians to leave, while the government is claiming the rebellion has been quashed.

Oil-rich Chad has accused neighbouring Sudan of backing the uprising, a claim Sudan denies. The EU had been due to send peacekeepers to Chad's border with Sudan, currently populated by hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan's stricken Darfur region, but has now delayed the deployment because of the unrest.

Inside Story explores the background to Chad's civil strife, and asks what the implications are for other countries, including neighbours Sudan and Libya and former coloniser France.

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