SENEGAL: Execution-style murder underscores resurgent violence

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A man was executed during a robbery by rebels on a road in the southern Casamance region of Senegal on 22 July, the latest indication of resurgent violence in the restive province.

Witnesses to the attack said 30 armed men stopped 15 cars at a roadblock on the Ziguinchor-Bignona road and stole money, jewellery and mobile phones from passengers, who included a local politician.

The man who was executed was wearing a military beret and was shot to death, witnesses said. The army has denied the man was a member of the armed forces, but other sources in the local administration said he was a soldier.

The Senegalese army has a heavy presence in the Casamance region where it has been waging one of Africa’s longest running and seemingly most intractable conflicts against separatist rebels currently grouped under the name “Movement for Democratic Forces of Casamance”.

Lieutenant Malamine Camara, spokesperson for the army, confirmed the incident and said the army has been unable to find the attackers.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has recently attempted to broker peace in other war-torn African countries including Sudan and Chad and to mediate in Zimbabwe. However since signing a peace deal with the MFDC in 2004, his government has conspicuously failed to secure peace in Casamance.

Earlier this year, several villagers were mutilated with machetes by the rebels while trying to harvest cashew nuts. Continuing low-level violence and intimidation has prevented many people from returning to homes and land they abandoned during heavy fighting in the 1990s.