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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06DAKAR3016 2006-12-27 10:51:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Dakar
Cable title:  

CASAMANCE: ESCALATION IN REBEL ATTACKS

Tags:   PINS ASEC CASC KHDP PHUM SG MO 
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1. (SBU) On December 20, Movement of Democratic Forces of the
Casamance (MFDC) combatants ambushed a Senegalese army vehicle near
the village of Kagnaru, north of Bignona. Two soldiers died, and 14
suffered injuries. One day before, a Senegalese army vehicle struck
a fresh landmine in the outskirts of Sindian, an area reoccupied by
military forces in mid-August to combat radical MFDC elements led by
Movement for the Liberation of the People of the Casamance (MLPC)
leader Salif Sadio. These recent attacks vary from the more typical
acts of banditry that generally involve vehicle hijackings and
robbing occupants' possessions. The recent hostile attacks appear
to be deliberate moves to preempt the GOS's decision to remove
landmines from the Casamance with Moroccan assistance. Landmines
are the MFDC's weapon of choice, and rebels seem intent on violently
resisting any effort to remove them prior to a negotiated peace
agreement. END SUMMARY.

PEACE PROCESS STALLED


--------------------------




2. (SBU) In late November, President Abdoulaye Wade received a
group of traditional leaders from the Diouloulou area who offered to
mediate the conflict. On December 17, the Senegalese Army Corps of
Engineers started demining in the area of Sindian. In both
initiatives, the GOS acted unilaterally, having failed to consult
MFDC leaders.



3. (SBU) The demining operation is led by Moroccan forces,
following President Wade's call for help from the international
community, and a subsequent agreement signed during Moroccan King
Mohamed VI's November visit to Senegal. The GOS optimistically
announced that the removal of landmines would take two months.
However, Handicap International, a demining NGO active locally, says
the timeframe is not realistic given the extent of the problem and
the limited resources of the Senegalese army. A senior MFDC member
told EmbOff that he believes the GOS is using demining as an excuse
to secure Moroccan help in capturing MFDC Atika faction/MPLC leader
Sadio.

SADIO IS MORE DANGEROUS NOW


--------------------------




4. (SBU) Recent violent attacks against the Senegalese army signal
a major change in the MFDC/MLPC's strategy of the last six years,
which was characterized by a lack of direct confrontation between
GOS and MFDC forces. Recent attacks have targeted troops involved
in demining operations. The nature of the December 20 attack, which
took place in open areas near villages, shows that Sadio's men are
willing to take major risks. Likely feeling pressure from the GOS,
Sadio has become radicalized and is expanding the fight to
previously peaceful areas, which had been attack free for several
years.

COMMENT


--------------------------




5. (SBU) The lack of GOS effort to promote the Casamance peace
process, coupled with the suspension of government subsidies to the
MFDC and the illness of MFDC founder Father Diamacoune Senghor, who
is currently undergoing medical treatment in France, has left more
room for radical civilian and MFDC leaders to operate. Sadio and
other radicals may launch more violent attacks against the army.
Under pressure from the Senegalese army and unable to operate in
Guinea-Bissau, Sadio may scatter his combatants and their
sympathizers and launch a new campaign of small attacks with the
potential to create more suffering in the region. Sadio's staying
power could also attract combatants from other factions who still
believe in independence to rally behind him. END COMMENT.



6. (U) For additional background on the Casamance conflict, visit
Embassy Dakar's classified website at
http://www.state.sgov/gov/p/af/dakar/.

JACKSON