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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 21:19 GMT
Violence prompts fears for Senegal poll




At least 10 people have been injured during clashes in Senegal - prompting fears of further violence in the run-up to the weekend's presidential election.

Gunfire broke out in the northern town of St Louis after President Abdou Diouf and his main rival, Abdoulaye Wade, arrived in the town almost simultaneously on Tuesday.

BBC correspondent Ogo Okpara said Mr Wade's vehicle was pelted with stones - but Mr Wade's supporters soon launched a counter-offensive.

According to one report, Mr Wade's entourage first came under attack as it passed the office of the Senegalese Liberal Party (PLS) - a rival opposition party led by Ousmane Ngom who defected from Mr Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS).

Militants later set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Socialist Party (PS), as well as those of the PLS.

Panic

Our correspondent says there was widespread panic in the town.

The clashes in St Louis follow less violent election-related incidents in the south of the country.

They have led to concern that both government and opposition supporters will adopt any tactics, including violence, as the election approaches.

The first round of voting is due on Sunday. Mr Diouf, who has been in power since 1981, faces seven challengers.

Mr Wade, who has been Senegal's most prominent opposition figure for two decades, was welcomed by thousands of supporters when he returned home last October after a year abroad.
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28 Dec 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Neighbours wary over Ivory Coast coup

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