DAKAR, Senegal – Senegalese soldiers wounded two students at a demonstration in the country's south, shooting into the air to disperse a crowd that had blocked traffic in a rare altercation between the military and civilians, witnesses said Friday.
The students had gathered in the town of Ziguinchor to push for improvements at their school in nearby Oulampane, organizers said. They called for the hiring of more teachers and installing Internet at the school.
One of the students was wounded in the chest while another was hit in the shoulder when soldiers fired live ammunition, Lamine Sane told Senegalese Radio Television. The wounded protesters were later brought to a hospital in the capital, Dakar, for further treatment.
Col. Abou Thiam said the military "regretted the incident" and was launching an investigation.
But angry parents said they planned to file a formal complaint against the soldiers.
"We know the role of the army and it's to defend the country," said Bourama Diedhiou, speaking on behalf of the students' parents.
The southern region of Casamance has been home to a low-level rebellion by separatists for more than 30 years, and the Senegalese army has several military quarters based in the area.
Unlike in many of its West African neighbors, though, Senegal rarely sees violent altercations between its military and civilians.