A Senegalese soldier was killed and four were wounded during an operation against separatist rebels in the southern region of Casamance, an army official said Tuesday (Jan. 17).
The soldier died Monday (Jan.16) in the locality of Bignona where the army has been conducting operations these past few weeks to block attempt by the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) to set up a new base near the border with The Gambia, press reports suggested.
Casamance, Senegal’s southernmost region, is almost separated from the rest of the country by the tiny state of The Gambia.
At the time of the incident, the Senegalese forces destroyed hemp fields, according to local media.
The MFDC has waged its campaign to break away since 1982 but signed a peace deal with the government last August, hailed as a first step toward a permanent end to one of Africa’s oldest active rebellions.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall has said that ending the rebellion is a priority, and in recent years the government has begun returning Casamance residents displaced by the conflict.
Officials also accuse the rebels of illicit trafficking of cannabis and wood, and of seeking refuge in The Gambia or in Guinea-Bissau to the south.