Chad rebel chief held in France for crimes against humanity

Vehicles and armaments belonging to the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) is displayed by the Chadian army, 90 kilometres (55 miles) to the east of Abou Goulem on November 27, 2007 (AFP Photo/Sonia ROLLEY)

Paris (AFP) - One of Chad's main rebel leaders was detained at his Paris home on Monday over alleged crimes against humanity committed in Sudan, his rebel group and French legal sources said.

General Mahamat Nouri, the exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), was detained at his home in western Paris in connection with "his activities in Sudan between 2005 and 2010," a group spokesman told AFP.

Paris prosecutors confirmed his arrest along with that of two other Chadian rebels as part of an investigation opened last month into crimes against humanity and similar charges.

Founded by Nouri, the UFDD is one of the main groups opposing President Idriss Deby Itno. Some of its forces are based in southern Libya.

In 2008, the UFDD joined with other rebel groups in a bid to overthrow the regime, with the rebels reaching the gates of the presidential palace in N'Djamena before being repelled by the army with the backing of French troops.

Two years later, Nouri and two other rebel chiefs were expelled from Sudan, where they had based their operations for many years.

Their expulsion came just months after Khartoum and N'Djamena normalised relations following years of tension marked by mutual accusations that each side was supporting the other's rebels.

Nouri has previously had a base in Qatar.