Senegal cut diplomatic ties with Iran Feb. 22, accusing Tehran of arming separatist rebels in its restive southern Casamance region, where 16 soldiers have been killed this year. A cache of weapons concealed as building material intercepted in Nigeria in October was determined to be one of several Iranian shipments passing through Gambia and destined for the Casamance guerillas. “Senegal is outraged to see that Iranian bullets caused the death of Senegalese soldiers,” said the statement announcing the breaking of ties.
While a peace accord was signed in 2004, talks between the Senegalese government and rebels have broken down, hampered by the fact that the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance (MFDC) has split into several factions. The separatists are known to have bases in Gambia, which has cut diplomatic ties with Iran after the Nigeria arms interception. An accused Iranian Revolutionary Guard member is currently on trial in Lagos over the weapons shipment. (Middle East Online, Feb. 23)
See our last post on West Africa.