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20.12.2011 Senegal

Clashes in Senegal's Casamance region kill 13

By AFP
Fighting between separatist rebels and Senegal troops left 13 people dead on Tuesday.  By Francis Nallier (AFP/Graphic)Fighting between separatist rebels and Senegal troops left 13 people dead on Tuesday. By Francis Nallier (AFP/Graphic)
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ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (AFP) - Fighting between separatist rebels and Senegal troops left 13 people dead on Tuesday, in the latest violence to hit the Casamance enclave, the military said.

The army said that rebels of the Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) staged a dawn attack on a government outpost in Diegoune district, 45 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Ziguinchor, the region's capital.

Five rebels and one soldier were killed in the clash, which also left one soldier missing and one soldier and six rebels wounded, the army public relations unit said in a statement sent to AFP.

"There was a fierce firefight for at least 30 minutes. It was terrifying," a military official told AFP.

Another seven government troops were killed and four wounded when a military unit deployed as reinforcements had a serious traffic accident, the statement said.

An intelligence officer speaking on condition of anonymity said the convoy was in fact attacked by suspected rebels using rocket launchers, and that "there were nine killed and seven wounded among army ranks".

The army also said that two more soldiers had been "injured, one by an explosive device" in operations in Casamance.

A medical source at the region's main hospital said seven soldiers had been admitted with injuries.

The army statement said that despite the attacks, the military remained committed to ensuring the safety of people and property throughout Casamance.

The divided 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.

Dakar said Monday it was conducting search operations for five soldiers who have been missing since another rebel attack on an army outpost last week.

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