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December 27, 2010

Rebels Attack Southern Senegal Village

Senegalese army spokesman, Colonel Abdourahim Kebe, said Monday that rebel fighters from the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance launched an attack Sunday on a village near the Gambian border.

Sources say an army patrol engaged the rebels, leading to violent clashes that led to casualties on both sides, though the rebels have not released any information.

An army spokesman said the soldiers were killed in fighting on Sunday and an ambush on Monday.

Witnesses says hundreds of residents are fleeing to towns across the border in the Gambia, which juts into the center of Senegal and separates the Casamance from the rest of the country.

Aida Diop says she left her village with her three children, leaving behind many of their belongings. She says her relatives have gone to the Gambia. She says she is sad and it is time to find a way to build a lasting peace because this situation is very difficult.

The rebels, known by the French acronym MFDC, have been fighting a low-level insurgency for independence in Casamance since the early 1980's. It is one of the longest-running conflicts on the African continent.

The government and the MFDC signed a peace accord in 2004, but sporadic violence continues to plague the region and displace civilians.