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Chadian Civilians Killed and Injured by Aerial Bombings

Tine, Chad, January 29, 2004 - Civilians were killed and injured today when bombs hit the town of Tine, Chad, on the border with Sudan. According to volunteers working in Tine for the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the aerial bombardment, carried out by Sudanese planes, occurred at 8 am local time.

Thousands of refugees escaping Sudan's Darfur region are seeking shelter in Tine, camping out beside the dry riverbed, or 'wadi', that marks the border between the two countries. Some of the bombs fell directly on this 'wadi' and at least two people were killed, including a two-year-old child. The MSF hospital has so far received 15 wounded, two of whom were severely injured.

"Most of the injured we have received so far are women or children," said Sonia Peyrassol, MSF Field Coordinator in Tine. "Two of the heavily wounded are elderly. All are clearly civilians."

For the past ten days, the MSF team in Tine has received patients with severe shrapnel injuries following aerial bombardments in Sudan. This morning's incident is the first time bombs have fallen on Tine, Chad.

"The majority of the patients we have treated over the past ten days required urgent surgery," continued Peyrassol. "Many patients needed to have their limbs amputated and others have suffered severe internal injuries like perforated intestines."

This morning's bombing has caused panic among the refugees gathered in Tine and many are now fleeing further into Chad, away from the Sudanese border.

"The crisis on both sides of the border is escalating," Peyrassol said. "There are now well over 100,000 refugees in Chad, many in desperate need of water, food, and shelter."

MSF has been running health posts at the border towns of Tine, Birak and Adre since September, 2003, providing refugees with medical consultations, vaccinations and nutritional supplements. The surgical capacity of the compound was increased in January, and today the MSF team includes 26 international volunteers and 50 Chadian staff.

Well over 100,000 refugees have fled into Chad from Darfur, Sudan since the conflict in Darfur escalated last spring. Nearly 30,000 people fled in December alone, and 9,000 others crossed the border southwest of Tine in Ogoula, Chad last weekend.