Mediators Awaited in Chad

N'DJAMENA, Chad -- Sporadic gunfire rang out Tuesday around Chad's capital, which was awaiting African mediators after three days of fighting between rebels and the army took a heavy toll on civilians and increased instability in the region along Darfur's border.

Chad's Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-mi said rebels who had entered the city on Saturday had been chased 50 kilometers from N'djamena, and said the capital was calm. Thousands of people had fled, and more than 1,000 had been wounded, many of them civilians.

"I think they are awaiting some reinforcements but all threat to the security of the city of N'djamena can now be put aside," Allam-mi told reporters in Paris after talks with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

French military spokesman Captain Christophe Prazuck reported gunfire earlier Tuesday, but said rebels pursuing their most forceful attempt yet to oust President Idriss Deby appeared to be holding back around the fringes of N'djamena.

Rebel chief Mahamat Nouri told French radio Europe-1 that French aircraft had been bombarding the rebels from Sunday night until early Tuesday. Nouri said the rebels were ready to start a new offensive.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said French troops have taken no part in the fighting -- except Friday night, when they opened fire to protect French civilians. Sarkozy dismissed rebel claims that French forces had killed civilians.