Chad’s President Idriss Deby has been killed while visiting troops on the front line of a battle against militants, the day after he was declared the winner of a sixth term.
In a stunning statement read out on state television, an army spokesperson confirmed that the 68-year-old died of his injuries on Tuesday.
Deby “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said.
Deby was declared the winner of a sixth term in office and extended his three-decade rule. He was one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, took about 80 percent of the vote in the April 11 election, which was boycotted by opposition.
On Monday, his campaign said that the president was headed to the front lines to join soldiers battling “terrorists.”
He was expected to give a victory speech to supporters, but he had instead gone to visit Chadian soldiers on the front lines, said the president’s campaign director Mahamat Zen Bada.
“The candidate would have liked to have been here to celebrate … but right now, he is alongside our valiant defense and security forces to fight the terrorists threatening our territory,” he said.
On election day, groups of heavily-armed militants based across the northern frontier in Libya attacked a border post and then advanced hundreds of kilometers south across the desert.
Chadian military sources said that at least 300 militants were killed in the fierce fighting and some 150 were captured.
“The column was totally decimated,” the army said in a statement late on Saturday.