‘Senegal killings spread’

Mark Huband in Abidjan

The Guardian, 12 January 1991

TORTURE and killings of civilians by Senegalese troops in the country’s southern Casamance region, where armed rebels are fighting for independence, has spread throughout the region, according to a report published this week by Amnesty International.

It accuses the government of giving the security forces “carte blanche to torture and kill in the Casamance region in response to attacks”.

At least 300 people in Casamance have been arrested in the past six months and charged with offences against state security. Eleven people have died since May from torture while under arrest.

Government officials say that 25 people have been killed by the separatist Movement of Casamance Democratic Forces since May. No official figure exists for the number of executions and alleged killings by the security forces.

In September, the report said, soldiers forced the men of a village to lie on the ground and beat them. Five were then abducted and their bodies later discovered in a rice field. In another incident, a 58-year old man was beaten to death after his children were accused of being members of the MFDC.

The government said yesterday it would investigate the report’s findings and publish the results in a white paper. An earlier Amnesty report, alleging police and army brutality in Casamance, was rejected outright by the government.

This led to the rebels stepping-up their military campaign against civilian targets, resulting in the arrest of the MFDC leader, a Catholic priest, Diacoune Senghor.

The MFDC has argued for 10 years that Casamance should have been granted independence from Senegal as part of an agreement between the country’s former colonial power, France, and the pre-independence Portuguese in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau.



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