Relative return to calm in Dakar after three days of clashes

Tension is falling slightly in Senegal, where deadly clashes have left 15 dead since Thursday and the two-year prison sentence for opponent Ousmane Sonko. Clashes were reported on Saturday in the suburbs of Dakar. But several neighborhoods which had experienced bouts of violence on Thursday and Friday in the capital remained calm, the Minister of the Interior stressing “a drop in intensity” of the demonstrations.

Antoine Diome indicated that “about 500 arrests” have been carried out since the start of the protest movement. Some of them belong to political parties but the majority have no party affiliation, he said. He also claimed that Senegal had been attacked by “occult forces”. “There is foreign influence and it is the country that is under attack,” he said. “Installations vital to the functioning of the country” were targeted to cause “chaos”, he continued, citing in particular a water production plant.

“We will not give in to these groups or these foreigners who have come to plunder our country,” Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang said earlier in the day. Security forces remain omnipresent in the capital. The army deployed, as the day before, around strategic points.

Since Thursday, many public and private properties have been ransacked and looted, including banks and Auchan stores in the suburbs of Dakar. Some streets bear the scars of the violent clashes that have taken place for two days, with charred cars, burnt tires and large stones strewn on the roads.

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