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Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Senegal plane 'bombs Guinea-Bissau'
Senegal/Guinea-Bissau border
By West Africa correspondent Mark Doyle

Government officials in Guinea-Bissau say that a military aircraft from neighbouring Senegal has bombed two villages on the Bissau side of the border, apparently while pursuing Senegalese rebels active in the border area.

The reported incident follows a serious upsurge in rebel activity in Senegal's southern Casamance region.

The Senegalese army said earlier this week that 18 people, including three Senegalese soldiers, had been killed in a border clash when separatist rebels entered Casamance from Guinea-Bissau.

Abdoulaye Wade
Senegal's President, Abdoulaye Wade, tries to resolve the war

There are no reliable casualty figures in the bombing incident, and the Bissau government is playing it down. It said it thought the bombing was a mistake.

It appears that the authorities in Guinea-Bissau think that newly-elected Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is sincere in trying to resolve the separatist war in southern Senegal and the occasional border conflicts that have resulted from the separatists using rear bases in the forests of Bissau.

President Wade has said that resolving the Casamance issue is a top priority.

However, military clashes like those that have taken place this week make ending the conflict difficult.

There are splits in the rebel movement and neither government knows exactly what is happening in remote parts of the border area.

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12 Apr 00 | Africa
Senegal army repulses rebels
01 Apr 00 | Africa
New era for Senegal
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