Chad’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency in three provinces amid fighting between rival ethnic groups, a government spokesman said in a statement.
The state of emergency is in place in the western Tibesti region bordering Niger and the eastern Sila and Ouaddai regions bordering Sudan. It will run until September 10, the statement said.
Clashes between semi-nomadic cattle herders of President Idriss Deby’s Zaghawa ethnic group and settled farmers mostly from the Ouaddian community left at least 50 dead in the past two weeks.
“This state of emergency will help maintain and restore public order and security, as well as permanent and effective control of borders,” the statement said.
Chad, a vast country spanning a chunk of the Sahara desert and the Sahel beneath it, is awash with weapons from conflict zones surrounding it such as Libya, Central African Republic and Sudan.
The statement did not say if troops would be deployed.
The armed forces already face security threats on multiple fronts, including a Boko Haram Islamist insurgency near Lake Chad and a northern rebellion based in neighbouring Libya French war planes intervened to halt in February.
Deby’s fight against Islamist militants – he deployed troops to counter groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel and Lake Chad region – has strained the military, leaving it ill-equipped to tackle new insecurity.
As with much of the region, Chad’s dry and difficult climate is a tinderbox for tensions between farmers and herders, each in need of rapidly shrinking amounts of land and water relative to an exploding population.