DAKAR, Senegal – Roman Catholic peacemakers say that several Senegalese soldiers were freed by rebels in the southern Casamance district.
The Sant'Egidio Community confirmed, in a statement issued in Rome, that the soldiers were released by the rebels to promote peace negotiations. They did not say how many soldiers were let go. A conflict has raged for more than 30 years between the Senegalese government and the Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance, who are fighting for independence of the southern region.
The Sant'Egidio Community has mediated peace negotiations which started in Rome in October.
The rebels' leader, Salif Sadio, decided to release the prisoners and they were handed over to Sant'Egidio representatives and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The prisoners were taken to neighboring Gambia where they were released.