Gunmen killed a leading figure of a Senegalese separatist movement on Sunday while he was attending a traditional ceremony, a military spokesman said. Abdou Elinkine Diatta, the spokesman of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), was attending an enthronement ceremony of a traditional king when the assailants arrived on a motorcycle.
“They opened fire and he was killed,” Colonel Abdou Ndiaye told reporters. Ndiaye said another person died of his wounds on his way to the hospital and two others were hurt in the attack at Mlomp, outside the Casamance capital Ziguinchor in southern Senegal.
He said there was no indication who carried out the attack. Diatta, though not known to hold any operational or military role, was a familiar face in the separatist movement, notably as its spokesman.
The group, riven by internal factions, has for almost four decades waged a low-level conflict against the Dakar government in the Casamance region, which is virtually separated from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia, which juts into the former French colony from the Atlantic Ocean.
The unrest has cost thousands of lives since it began in 1982, affecting the economy and forcing many inhabitants to flee. Recent years have seen a return to relative calm, with the 2012 election of President Macky Sall bringing about several attempts at peace, most recently 2017 peace talks brokered in Rome by the Sant’Egidio Catholic association.
Sall, re-elected earlier this year, has made achieving “definitive peace” in Casamance a priority of his second term as president of the West African country.