60 Days War
Chadians Occuping Sarh (1963)

Chadian troops during the first occupation of Sarh
Date May 17, 1963 - July 16, 1963
Location Kamburi/Chad border
Result Status quo ante bellum
Flag of Kamburi Kamburi Flag of Chad Chad
Commanders and leaders
Mudaqi Mosi
Émilien Kgosi
François Tombalbaye
1,500 5,000
Casualties and losses
784 394
The 60 Days War, also known as the First Chadian-Kamburi War was an undeclared military conflict fought between Kamburi and Chad over 60 days during the Summer of 1963. The conflict began on May 17, 1963 and lasted to July 16 that same year, and was the result of a 3 year long growing of tensions over the border town of Sarh. It was to become the first of many conflicts between the two nations over the next 16 years due to the claim that both nations had on Sarh, where most of the fighting took place.


Origins of the conflict

Before the rise of the Kanem Empire in the region, major fighting in the area was fought between the eastern Zambir people and the Kamburi people of the north-west. However, when the Semitic and Berber people from the north came with the Kanem Empire, ethnic tensions grew before the empire, along with its people, dispersed. This led the Zambir and Kamburi people to begin clashes of the territory again before the French finally assimilated the region into the French Equatorial Africa colony. However, poor ability to control the ethnic tension allowed periodic fights to continue until the granting of overseas territory status to Chad and Kamburi-Zambir. The split between the colonies, and the inability to make distinctions between the true owners of Sarh would eventually contribute to the outbreak of hostilities.

However, the major contributing factor to the conflict would be the final partition of the nations over eight days between August 11 (Chadian independence) and August 19 (Kamburian independence). Unable to firmly partition the town of Sarh to one nation or the other left the French little space to move on the issue. Thus, when Kamburi finally became independent, the town was partitioned into two sections, separated by the Chari river. However, both nations immediately after their respective independence claimed the town, and tensions began to build, especially with infighting within the town between the Chadian residents and the Kamburian residents.

Invasion of Sarh

Chadian Troops interrogation

Chadian troops interrogating captured Kamburian militia

Whilst originally planning to invade the city during the night on May 16, having already planted troops along the shore of the Chari, François Tombalbaye, the President of Chad, ordered that the attack take place the following morning so more men would be able to stack up along the border during the night. This was a major turning point, even before the conflict began, as intelligence officers provided correct data on the number of troops stacked along the border. Kamburian President Mudaqi Mosi often believed an invasion by Chad was going to occur, and when he received the news of Chadian troops stacking up along the border, he immediately called for generals to form a militia group in Sarh to hold off the invaders in case of a surprise attack.

His fears were proven correct the next day; as at 9:00 am on the morning of May 17, Chadian troops numbering close to 2000 men crossed the Chari river, and landed inside Kamburi borders. Militia servicemen immediately took up their defensive positions laid out to them during the night, and after 4 hours of intensive urban warfare, Chadian troops succeeded in capturing the town of Sarh.

Sarh Counter-offensive

Chadian Men Crossing the Chari

Chadian men retreating across the Chari

Despite numerous cries to end the war immediately following the invasion, Mosi refused to bend, especially to his generals. He ordered a counter-offensive to drive into the town. With around 800 men poised to retake the town from the 1,500 men garrisoned, Mosi called for his Field Marshal and Chief of the Army, Émilien Kgosi, to head the assault. Finally, at 10:00 pm, May 24, during a military drill in the town centre, Sarh was bombed by Kamburian troops in a demoralising first strike.

Immediately after the bombing, captured militiamen on the inside of the Sarh barricade rose up in response to the occupation. News of the militiamen reached Kgosi at 11:00 pm, and he called for a move towards the town. Quickly releasing that they could, and possibly would be surrounded it they stayed and fought, the 1,250 drew back towards the north of the town, leaving a large number of men in town to draw the fire. Kgosi called for the capture of these soldiers, and by 1:00 in the morning, the Chadian army had been pushed to the banks of the Chari river. With no room to move, Chadian president François Tombalbaye personally called for the retreat back across the river. The orders were obliged, and over the course of the next several hours, the invaders swarmed back across the border. On the morning of May 25, Kamburi had succeed in retaking their lost territory.

Manda and Lai offensives

Plans for an offensive by Kamburi into Chad originated as far back as 1959, a year before both countries independence. Originally multiple plans, by 1961, Kgosi and Mosi had formulated one military offensive from them; a two strike drive into both the town of Lai, and the Manda swamplands, each equally important to the control of Sarh. However, when Chad invaded in 1963, the focus of the military turned not to an offensive into the opposing country, but a defensive line, called the Mubutana line. This theoretical line needed supplies running up and down the length of the Chari to pose any chance of succeeding, and to allow for the defensive line to hold, it needed an offensive into Chad to capture both of its most important strategic territories; Manda and Lai.

Chadian Border War
60 Days War 1st Sarh2nd SarhManda (1963)Lai (1963)3rd Sarh
1st Sarh War Siege of Sarh (1965)Goundi (1965)
Manda Conflict Manda (1967)Koumra (1968)Lai (1968)
2nd Sarh War Siege of Sarh (1971)
Kamburi War Siege of Sarh (1975)Manda (1977)Lai (1977)Koumra (1978)Goundi (1978)KeloDoba

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