News24

5 Senegal troops held by rebels

2011-12-29 20:06

Dakar - Senegal's army said on Wednesday that five soldiers who went missing after a rebel attack last week in the troubled southern Casamance region were being held by separatist rebels.

An army statement said the five were "in the hands of" the Movement of Democratic Forces. "They are alive and their families have been informed."

The soldiers were reported missing after MFDC rebels attacked a military position on December 13 in the Casamance, Senegal's tropical south which is home to West Africa's longest and most persistent conflict.

A week later 13 people were killed in fighting between troops and rebels, a month after 10 civilians were killed in a suspected MFDC attack near the regional capital Ziguinchor.

The MFDC has been fighting for independence since 1982 in the region separated from the rest of Senegal by Gambia.

The conflict, which has seen periods of quiet and surges of violence, hasn't reached the levels of bloodshed of other wars in the region but has nonetheless claimed thousands of lives over the past three decades.

Several peace accords have failed, the MFDC is reportedly riven with divisions and rebels are often implicated in large-scale hijackings and the terrorising of villagers.