05/09/09 (B514) Djibouti rebels claim to beat back troops (En Anglais) Un porte-parole du FRUD affirme que les rebelles ont fait reculer les forces militaires nationales djiboutiennes.(Info lecteur)

FRUD rebels said they sustained no casualties

FRUD spokesman says at least four soldiers killed by rebels in weekend clash in Mablas region.

A rebel group in Djibouti on Tuesday claimed that it had fought off a military attack, killing four soldiers and wounding 20 others in the weekend clash in the small Horn of Africa nation.

The ethnic Afar Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) said that on Sunday, troops had attacked a rebel position in the Mablas region, with two helicopter gunships in support.

But according to a statement signed by FRUD’s envoy for external relations, Hassan Mokbel, the soldiers "were pushed back and had at least four dead in their ranks, while 20 were injured, some of whom were evacuated by helicopter."

The FRUD rebels sustained no casualties, the statement said.

There was no immediate official comment on the claims.

The FRUD, which comes from northern Djibouti, almost overturned the regime of President Hassan Gouled Aptidon at the beginning of the 1990s, and fights to protect Afar interests from domination by the Issas, the other major ethnic group in Djibouti.

A moderate wing of the FRUD signed a peace pact with the government in 1994 and joined the ruling coalition. The movement’s historical leader, Ahmed Dini Ahmed, laid down arms in 2001 and has entered the political opposition.

Strategically located at the gateway to the Red Sea, the largely desert nation of half a million people houses France’s biggest military base in Africa as well as the only US military base on the continent.