Sant'Egidio at the service of peace Sant'Egidio at the service of peace  

Rebels release captured Senegalese soldiers

Seven soldiers captured by the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) separatist group in Senegal have been released, following appeals from the Community of Sant’Egidio.

By Vatican News staff writer

Separatist rebels from Senegal’s Casamance region freed seven captured Senegalese soldiers on Monday, following numerous appeals for their release, including from the Community of Sant’Egidio.

The liberated soldiers, who are members of the West African peacekeeping mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) had been captured by the forces of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), led by Salif Sadio, following a clash three weeks ago.

The seven soldiers were handed over to a delegation from the Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in the presence of Fr. Angelo Romano of Sant’Egidio, representatives of the Gambian armed forces, and representatives of the International Red Cross who acted as neutral intermediaries.

Sant’Egidio at the service of peace

On 24 January, fighters from the MFDC clashed with ECOMIG troops, comprised of mainly Senegalese soldiers. The Senegalese military said the fighting occurred during an operation to combat illegal logging on the border with The Gambia. According to reports, about 2 soldiers were killed, while seven were captured alive.

After the incident, a delegation from the Community of Sant’Egidio immediately left for Banjul, The Gambia, to facilitate dialogue between the sides in the conflict, at the request of the concerned parties.

As a first gesture toward peace, on 30 January, MFDC head Salif Sadio welcomed the appeal made by Sant’Egidio and returned the bodies of two soldiers who had been killed in the clash.

Following the soldiers’ release on Monday, Sant’Egidio expressed gratitude and acknowledged the positive synergy created between the bodies who jointly worked to contain the crisis, particularly ECOWAS, as well as the authorities of The Gambia and Senegal.


The MFDC is behind a separatist conflict in Senegal’s southern region of Casamance which dates back to 1982 and has claimed several lives.

The group has been largely dormant since a cease-fire in 2014 but has been accused of illegal timber trafficking between Senegal and The Gambia.

Casamance was owned by the Portuguese for several hundred years until it was ceded to France in 1888. It later became a part of Senegal after the country gained independence in 1960.


15 February 2022, 12:24