At least two people were killed Tuesday during demonstrations against Chad’s new junta headed by the son of veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno following his shock battlefield death.
The protesters defied a ban and rallied in the capital N’Djamena and in the south of the semi-desert country where civilian rule was suspended following Deby’s death.
Police were deployed in N’Djamena to break up the planned demonstrations against the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC) called by the opposition and civil society groups.
Deby’s 37-year-old son Mahamat now leads the council, and has pledged to hold elections in 18 months.
But the opposition called the TMC an “illegal and illegitimate organ endorsed by France which thinks it can impose a new military dictatorship” on its former colony.
Police used tear gas to disperse small groups of demonstrators in the capital, some of whom burned tyres, AFP journalists saw.
A woman died when anti-junta protesters attacked a bus in N’Djamena’s Dembe district, a prosecutor told AFP.
“Some passengers fled but a woman remained and was killed by the protesters,” N’Djamena prosecutor Youssouf Tom told AFP.
Separately, a man died in protests in the southern city of Mondou, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of the capital.
“We do not yet have the exact circumstances of the death, he is a young man of 21,” Mondou prosecutor Ali Kolla Brahim told AFP.
But a high-ranking state media official, Ahmat Malloum, told AFP by telephone from Moundou that police fired live ammunition on a student who had thrown a stone at a police car.
“The student died instantly,” Malloum said.
A leading rights group called on its activists for “peace and justice” to turn out massively on Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned “with the greatest firmness the repression of demonstrations and the violence that took place this morning in N’Djamena.”
The French leader was speaking during a visit to Paris of DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, currently head of the African Union.
France has been a key ally in Chad’s battle against a jihadist revolt that has swept across the Sahel, though Macron has said he intends to eventually reduce the 5,100-strong Barkhane force Paris has deployed in the region for nearly a decade.
The TMC had banned protests planned for Tuesday, saying they were “likely to disturb public order”.