Residents of Chad’s capital have reacted with incredulity to news of President Idriss Deby Itno’s death.
Itno, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, died Tuesday of wounds suffered on the battlefield during a fight against rebels, the military announced on national television and radio.
The stunning announcement of Debys death came just hours after electoral officials had declared Deby the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.
The circumstances of Deby’s death could not immediately be independently confirmed due to the remote location. It was not known why the president would have visited the area or participated in ongoing clashes with the rebels who opposed his rule.
The military said Deby had taken “the heroic lead in combat operations against terrorists who had come from Libya.” After being wounded in battle, he then was taken to the capital, the general announced.
However, some foreign observers questioned how a head of state could have been killed, saying it cast doubt on his protective guard.
The Chadian military had only acknowledged five deaths in weekend fighting in which it said it had killed 300 rebels.
An 18-month transitional council will be led by Deby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, the military said, also imposing a nightly curfew of 6 p.m.