Hundreds demand army in Senegal region
Kolda - Around 400 people marched in Senegal's restive region of Casamance on Tuesday to demand the army set up outposts to protect the population from separatist rebels, officials and organisers said.
"We staged a march to demand the return of military bases to our area," Landing Diama, a spokesperson for the demonstrators, told AFP.
The march took place in Mangacounda and gathered residents of several other villages in the Sedhiou region of Casamance where the army has dismantled several outposts in recent years.
"Recently, we haven't felt safe. Our youth are being threatened" by armed gangs, Diama said, referring to an incident during which suspected rebels held around 10 youths from the Mangacounda area hostage for several hours.
A local official confirmed the march took place but made no further comment.
Casamance, a small region wedged in southern Senegal, has seen a rise in violence between government forces and Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces rebels in recent weeks.
The MFDC has been fighting for independence since 1982 in a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, with no immediate end in sight despite several peace accords.