Rebels Kill Several Troops in Southern Senegal

Several soldiers were killed on Tuesday in an attack in the restive Casamance region of southern Senegal blamed on separatist rebels, military and political sources told Agence France Presse.

"We have lost some soldiers and some have been reported missing," a military source said after a local official reported an attack in the village of Kabeumeu near the border with Gambia.

An elected local official confirmed to AFP by phone that "several soldiers" had been killed and said that others had been taken hostage by suspected members of the rebel Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC).

Neither source was immediately able to give an exact number of casualties.

According to the military source, a search was under way to locate the missing soldiers.

"The soldiers were taken by surprise" by the attack which took place at around 6:00 am, said the local official.

"They tried to defend themselves and there were intense exchanges of fire with heavy weapons as well as small arms fire," he said. "We ourselves had to leave the house to find refuge in the bush."

MFDC separatists have been fighting for independence from Senegal since 1982.

The region has seen periods of calm interspersed with heightened tensions. At least 10 people were killed on November 21 near the regional capital Ziguinchor in a suspected MFDC attack.

Source: Agence France Presse

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