Nigeria’s military has raised its alert level following the death of Chad President Idriss Déby amid ongoing clashes between the Central African country’s security forces and rebel groups.
Violence had erupted in Chad following the conduct of presidential elections on April 11 with the incursion of rebel forces based in Libya.
The rebels were headed south in the direction of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
This had forced various foreign governments, including the United States and United Kingdom, to evacuate their employees and discourage nationals from travelling to the country.
Chad’s Army declared on Tuesday that 68-year-old Déby had died after sustaining injuries during a visit to the war front in the northern region the previous day.
Making a statement on state television, Azem Bermandoa Agouna, army spokesman, said he “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield.”
Déby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, 37, was immediately announced interim President by a transitional military council.
The government and national assembly were dissolved while a curfew was imposed, and Chad’s borders were shut.
Nigerian military intelligence sources informed HumAngle that the country’s military has raised its alert level in preparation for a possible escalation of crisis in the region.
They also described the developments in Chad as a “big blow to counterinsurgency” operations in the Sahel, particularly Northeast Nigeria. “Idriss Déby was a strategic partner and ally in the fight against insurgency. His death calls for maximum alertness,” one source said.
It is expected that a heightened alert level will be accompanied by increased surveillance, especially along Nigeria’s borders with Chad, which is 85 kilometres in length.
Déby has been leader of Chad since 1990 after he led a rebellion against former President Hissène Habré.
Before his death, provisional electoral results showed that he was set to become president for a sixth term of five years.