Senegal arrests 24 suspects in Casamance killings

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese police have arrested and charged 24 people over an shooting attack in its restive southern Casamance region earlier this month that left 14 villagers dead, a regional prosecutor said on Thursday.

Gunmen attacked a group of civilians who were searching for firewood in a forest on Jan. 6 near the town of Borofaye, about 10 km (six miles) from the Guinea Bissau border. Another seven people villagers were wounded in the attack.

The area is home to separatist rebels who in 1982 formed the Movement of Democratic Forces for Casamance (MFDC), now one of Africa’s oldest rebellions, fighting for independence.

Abdoulaye Sylla, a prosecutor in the provincial capital Ziguinchor, told national radio that the 24 arrested included a member of the MDFC who authorities believe was the mastermind behind the operation.

Sylla said the 24 were charged with murder, criminal conspiracy and possession of unlicensed weapons.

Reporting by Diadie Ba; Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Mark Heinrich