Over 30 people have been killed after weekend attacks by janjaweed fighters from neighbouring Sudan, the Chadian government has said.
The attackers burned homes in two villages in Chad near its volatile eastern border with Sudan, mutilating victims, Chad's Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said in a statement on Monday.
The violence in eastern Chad follows repeated warnings that Sudan's Darfur conflict could spill over and engulf the region where Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic meet.
The governments of Chad and Sudan trade accusations that each is supporting the other's rebels — each side denies the charges.
In Chad, the competition for power has become more intense since this country began exporting oil in 2004.
Among those killed in the weekend violence were 15 civilians, including five Sudanese refugees, an imam, a woman who was set alight and a man who was disemboweled, Doumgor said. Eight government soldiers were also killed.
Four janjaweed were taken prisoner and nine killed during the attack on the villages of Aradib and Habile, he added.
"The janjaweed command post was located and a search and clean up operation was launched by the defense and security forces," Doumgor said without giving the exact whereabouts of the militia base.
Arab militia also attacked the towns of Goz Amir and Habile — also close to the eastern border, Chad's Security Minister Gen Routouang Yoma Golom said.