By: Yankuba Manneh
Six innocent young lives including one Gambian were claimed in a landmine detonation in Casamance, Southern Senegal. The tragic incident occured in the village of Kandiadiou, near Gambian border on Friday afternoon when the six people in a horse-drawn vehicle were returning from Jumah Prayers and ran over an old landmine.
Casamance is Senegal’s most troubled region marred with violent conflicts since December 1982, when the separatist movement began agitating for Independence. Since then there have been violent attacks and counter-attacks between Senegalese Army and the rebel factions in the region. The former trying to ensure calm, control and exert Dakar’s rule in the region while the latter insists on demands for independence over gross neglect and discrimination.
Twitting on this unfortunate incident, President Macky Sall expressed contrite and offered his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
Yankouba Sagna, Mayor of Sindian sub-prefecture, confirmed to AFP that the explosion happened on Friday in Kandiadiou, a village near Gambian frontier where six lives perished.
Mayor Sagna added: “A cart hit a mine. It was carrying young people from Friday Prayers. The mine that exploded was not laid recently. Old mines remain in the crop fields. When it rains , they appear. We have always asked for the area to be de-mined.”
Authorities in Senegal hold the view that the landmine that killed these young people wasn’t planted recently but years ago when separatist movement was at its peak. It is also believed that more remnants of landmine are still in the fields undiscovered posing potential threats in the region. People around the mine field areas should be cautious of these threats as they go about on their daily transactions.
Of recent there is a relative calm in one of Africa’s oldest troubled regions with a population of 1.9 million people. Since the conflict began in 1982, thousands of lives were said to have been claimed and the economy severely ruined.