Ziguinchor, Senegal (AFP) Dec 30, 2010
Violence flared again in Senegal's troubled south as seven soldiers were killed this week, prompting criticism over a stalled peace process in the three decade-long separatist rebellion.
The losses, in an ambush on Senegalese troops by suspected separatist rebels, were the heaviest since six soldiers were killed in October 2009 in the sporadic clashes that characterise one of Africa's longest running conflicts.
"The month of December always brings tensions in the Casamance," said journalist Ibrahima Gassama, a specialist on the Casamance conflict which broke out in 1982.
"It is the anniversary of the outbreak of the rebellion, which uses this to mark its presence," he told AFP.
The rebel Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) also carried out hijackings to boost their resources during the holiday season.
Senegalese authorities are however concerned about evidence the rebels seem to have come into posession of heavy weaponry, which allowed them to put up a strong resistance against the army.
"It is certain that they (rebels) have new equipment which they did not before, such as rocket launchers, mortars and machine guns," a Senegalese military official told AFP.
Former army chief General Mamadou Mansour Seck has called in the media for stricter surveillance of the borders.
A cache of Iranian arms recently discovered in Nigeria on their way to Gambia, raised fears in Senegal that they had bene destined for the Casamance rebels.
But while fears persist over the re-arming of the rebels, some observers have also raised concerns about the future of a peace process which stalled shortly after the signing of a peace accord in 2004.
Gassama said the process had remained in limbo since the death of Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, founding leader of the MFDC in 2007, because of divisions within the movement.
But for Moussa Cisse, a mediator in the crisis, insisted that the peace process was not blocked.
The MFDC was "three quarters united but they are dissenting and difficult to control," said Cisse.
The last time talks were held was in the town of Foundiagne in February 2005, shortly after the peace accord between the MFDC and Senegalese government was signed in December 2004.
MFDC official Daniel Diatta said: "The Senegalese government prefers to deal directly with the fighters instead of the civilian wing. It is a problem."
He said meetings were planned for January to unite the rebel movement in its talks with government.
Dakar-based human rights group Raddho on Wednesday called on government to organise a national peace conference on the Casamance.
In a statement the body said it "deplores the lack of vision in the construction and consolidation of peace in Casamance."
The crisis "has become the longest low intensity conflict on the African continent, with a situation of neither war or peace, and its share of desolation, of daily violence, robberies, of assault, extortion and continued insecurity," it added.
A rich agricultural region with lush forests and white stretches of beach, the ongoing rebellion has stunted development in the Casamance area -- a strip of land cut off from the rest of Senegal by Gambia.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
Sudan's Bashir sets Darfur talks deadline
Khartoum (AFP) Dec 29, 2010
Sudan will withdraw from Darfur peace talks in Doha and organise its own negotiations if no accord with the rebels is reached imminently, President Omar al-Bashir said on Wednesday, prompting an angry response from one rebel group. "If we reach an agreement tomorrow, praise be to God. But if there is no agreement, we will withdraw our negotiating team and the talks will then be held in Darfu ... read more
Adopted Haitian children fly in to Paris on Christmas Eve|
Plane carrying adopted Haitian children arrives in France
Adoptive parents arrive in Haiti to fetch children
Caricom-Australia chide empty promises to Haiti
Ever-Sharp Urchin Teeth May Yield Tools That Never Need Honing
Tablet computers come of age with iPad mania
New Kindle becomes Amazon's all-time best seller
Skype brings video calls to iPhone, iPod, iPad
Growing Hypoxic Zones Reduce Habitat For Billfish And Tuna
China's Zijin Mining makes payout over deadly dam collapse
Sand from Bangladesh may boost Maldives
Study: Dams will damage Peru's environment
Polar Bears No Longer On Thin Ice
H.K. duck's epic Arctic trip sheds light on migration
Obama gives 'lump of coal' to polar bears: activists
Polar bear status at heart of climate war
'Food Of The Gods' Genome Sequence Could Make Finest Chocolate Better
'Plant List' gives boost to conservation effort
Study: Human error spreads GM crops
Chateau Lafite, thanks to a lucky 8, takes off in China
Northern Argentina hit by 7.0 quake
Drilling In The Holy Land
Fears for missing in 'biblical' Australian floods
Six Years After The Tsunami Disaster
Sudan's Bashir sets Darfur talks deadline
Violence surges in Casamance as peace process stays blocked
West Africa faces dilemma over I.Coast military plan
Bashir says door open to peace in Darfur
Designer Probiotics Could Reduce Obesity
The Ideal Temperature For Keeping Fungi Away And Hunger At Bay
You Are What Your Father Ate
'Living pigment' in rock art discovered
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|