updated 6/16/2008 4:10:36 PM ET 2008-06-16T20:10:36

Both the U.N. chief and the Security Council on Monday joined the African Union Commission in condemning the rebel attacks in eastern Chad that have led to clashes with the army during the past week.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “condemns all attempts to destabilize the country and is concerned about the risk of a deterioration of the already grave humanitarian situation, especially in eastern Chad,” Ban’s office said in a statement.

He also is calling on all sides to stop fighting and start talking, and to honor the peace accords they signed.

The council’s members voted 15-0 to issue a presidential statement that the council “condemns in the strongest terms” the attacks and “all attempts at destabilization by force.”

The council said in a statement issued by this month’s president, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, that it “conveys deep concern at the direct threat the activity of armed groups pose for the safety of the civilian population and the conduct of humanitarian operations.”

The African Union Commission said Monday it condemned the fighting. The commission said the clashes were making it harder to restart talks between the Chadian government and Chadian groups to create peace and stability in the region.

An alliance of rebels opposing President Idriss Deby on Saturday attacked the eastern Chad town of Goz Beida, fighting with the army for an hour before occupying the town for a day. The rebels said they were still advancing to the capital, N’Djamena, a claim denied by Chad Communication Minister Mahamat Hissene, who also said calm had returned to Goz Beida.

The U.N. refugee agency said that the army has sealed off the main eastern Chad town, Abeche, on Monday, further restricting movement. Before Monday, Abeche has had a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, however, is maintaining its presence in all 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad. But as a “precautionary measure,” staff movement and activities have been restricted, said the agency, in the statement issued in Geneva.

U.S. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said Monday that the American embassy is “functioning with the minimum staff, and it's providing services to American citizens in Chad as needed.” Non-emergency staff has temporarily moved to Cameroon.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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