Guinea: January 7, 2004

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Senegal's president promised a new amnesty for Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) separatist rebels, after they agreed to clear landmines from the southern Casamance region and the end a decades-old conflict. Hundreds of people have been maimed by mines in Casamance, a former tourist hotspot between mainland Senegal and Guinea Bissau that has been isolated by a low-intensity conflict between rebels and government forces since 1982.

These rebels claim to have taken up arms to demand more autonomy for the largely Christian and animist region from the rest of mostly Muslim Senegal, but in reality they are little more than disenchanted drug runners without a credible political agenda. Their favorite trick was to sow antipersonnel landmines around poor villages during the night, then demand tribute from the farmers and goat herders in exchange for the mines' locations. - Adam Geibel

 

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