Potential Hot Spots: August 16, 2003


Four people were killed in southern Senegal's Ziguinchor province, by a dozen armed men linked to the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). Armed with automatic weapons and grenades, they ambushed six vehicles outside of the village of Diegoune (about 45km north of the regional capital of Ziguinchor) and robbed the passengers. Before leaving, they opened fire and killed the four civilians. No details were given on the identity of the victims. According to the same sources, the booty of the raid was significant. 

A few days earlier, an armed group (again, probably MFDC) attacked and pillaged the village of Sindian, but without causing any casualties. The escalating violence over the last few days has supposedly not jeopardized the progress of the peace process over the last few months.

Meanwhile, the country is being drenched in torrential rainstorms, which is going to reduce the Senegalese ability to hunt down the attackers. To start with, Casamance is tucked between Gambia and Guinea Bissau, but is geographically separated from the rest of Senegal. The authorities are worrying about cut roads, washed out crops and drowned livestock, as well as the potential for swarms of locusts to form (which is ironically how the MFDC can best be described). 

Since 1982, the MFDC has been claiming independence for the region but the historical claims are tenuous and basically an excuse for legitimacy. In actuality, the MFDC are not much more than a bunch of drug-running murderers who levy a 'tax' on the local cannabis growers. Another favorite trick of the MFDC is to plant antipersonnel mines outside a village at night, then extort cash and livestock in return for telling the hapless civilians where the deadly mines are hidden. - Adam Geibel


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