13 killed by gunmen in troubled region of Senegal

13 killed by gunmen in troubled region of Senegal

Gunmen have killed at least 13 people in Senegal as they gathered firewood in the forest, the military said.

It was the worst attack in years in the West African nation’s restive southern region, where a separatist insurgency has dragged on for more than three decades.

The bloodshed sparked fears of renewed unrest in the area, which had been relatively calm for the last few years.

Colonel Abdoul Ndiaye said seven other people were wounded in the massacre four miles (seven kilometres) outside the town of Ziguinchor, and the military stepped up its presence near there.

Casamance is separated from the rest of Senegal by the nation of Gambia.

While no immediate claim of responsibility was made, suspicion fell on the separatist group founded in 1982 known as the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance.

The armed wing of the group had agreed a ceasefire in 2014, and the last major attack blamed on the group was in 2013 when rebels took 12 employees of a South African bomb disposal firm hostage.

The victims, all Senegalese citizens, were eventually released.

Saturday’s deaths came just hours after the release of two prisoners belonging to the separatist group following negotiations that were mediated by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

The separatists have long argued that their region is culturally distinct from the rest of Senegal and has suffered from inattentive governments in the country’s capital, Dakar.

AP

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