About 50 people were killed and nearly 300 injured in violence that broke out in Chad on Thursday as hundreds took to the streets to demand a quicker transition to democratic rule. Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo, who gave the death toll at a news conference, said the government was still compiling casualties from what he described as an armed insurrection. But human rights groups said that unarmed civilians were massacred as security forces brutally cracked down on demonstrations in the capital, N’Djamena, and several other cities. Palls of black smoke could be seen in some parts of N’Djamena and the crack of tear gas grenades could be heard, news agencies reported. Posts on social media also said live bullets were fired. The vast, military-run Central African nation has been in crisis since the April 2021 death of President Idriss Deby, who ruled with an iron fist for three decades. His son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power in the immediate aftermath and initially promised an 18-month transition to elections, but on Oct. 1 he announced they would be pushed back by two years. Opposition and civil society groups called for the protests on Thursday, which would have marked the end of an initially agreed 18-month transition period. The government banned them, citing security reasons.