Painting in Oussouye warning of land mines in the area.
Guinea-Bissau (Vieira government, 1998–99)
Guinea-Bissau rebels (1998–99)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Macky Sall (2012–2014)||Ansumane Mané (1998–99)|
|Armed Forces of Senegal: Thousands (2012)||180 (2006)|
|Casualties and losses|
5,000 killed in total since 1982|
60,000 internally displaced 
The Casamance conflict is an ongoing low-level conflict that has been waged between the Government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) since 1982. On May 1, 2014 the leader of the MFDC sued for peace and declared a unilateral ceasefire.
The MFDC has called for the independence of the Casamance region, whose population is religiously and ethnically distinct from the rest of Senegal. The bloodiest years of the conflict were during the 1992–2001 period and resulted in over a thousand battle related deaths.
On December 30, 2004 an agreement was reached between the MFDC and the government which promised to provide the voluntary integration of MFDC fighters into the country's paramilitary forces, economic recovery programmes for Casamance, de-mining and aid to returning refugees. Nevertheless, some hard-line factions of the MFDC soon defected from elements of the MFDC who had signed the agreement and no negotiations took place following the breakdown of talks in Foundiougne on 2 February 2005.
Fighting again emerged in 2010 and 2011 but waned following the April 2012 election of Macky Sall. Peace negotiations under the auspices of Saint Egidio community took place in Rome and on 14 December 2012, President Sall announced that Casamance would be a test-case for advanced decentralization policy.
The Casamance region is the southern region of Senegal which, although connected in the East to Senegal, is separated from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia. The principal inhabitants of the region are members of the Jola (Djiola, Diola) ethnic group and many are Christians or animists, unlike the majority of Senegalese who are Muslims. The sentiment has existed amongst Jola that they do not benefit sufficiently from the region's richness and that Dakar, the capital, reaps most of the profit from the region's products.
It was not before the 1970s that a genuine separatist sentiment emerged in Casamance. One of the recurring themes was that Northerners dominated the economy of the region.
In the 1980s, resentment about the marginalization and exploitation of Casamance by the Senegalese central government gave rise to an independence movement in form of the MFDC, which was officially founded in 1982. This initial movement managed to unite Jola and other ethnic groups in the region, such as Fulani, Mandinka and Bainuk, and led to rising popular resistance against the government and northerners. The MFDC began to organise demonstrations, and tensions eventually escalated in massive riots in December 1983. The Senegalese government answered by dividing the Casamance province into two smaller regions, probably in order to split and weaken the independence movement. This only heightened tensions, and the government began to jail MFDC leaders such as Augustin Diamacoune Senghor.
Another factor in the growing independence movement was the failure of the Senegambia Confederation in 1989, which had economically benefited Casamance and whose end only worsened the situation of Casamance's population.
The discovery of oil in the region emboldened the MFDC to organise mass demonstrations for immediate independence in 1990, which were brutally suppressed by the Senegalese military. This pushed the MFDC into armed rebellion. The following fighting was vicious, and 30,000 civilians were displaced by 1994. Several ceasefires were agreed during the 1990s, but none lasted, often also due to splits within the MFDC along ethnic lines and between those ready negotiate and those who refused to lay down their weapons. In 1992 the MFDC divided into two main groups, Front Sud and Front Nord. Whereas Front Sud was dominated by Jola and called for full independence, Front Nord included both Jola as well as non-Jola tribesmen and was ready to work with the government based on a failed agreement of 1991. Another ceasefire in 1993 led to the break-off of hardline rebel groups from the MFDC. These continued to attack the military.
The Senegalese military relocated thousands of soldiers from the northern provinces to Casamance in 1995 in an attempt to finally crush the uprising. The northern soldiers often mistreated the local population and did not differentiate between those who supported the rebels and government loyalists. By this time, the rebels had established bases in Guinea-Bissau, reportedly being supplied with arms by Bissau-Guinean military commander Ansumane Mané. Mané's alleged support for the separatists was one factor which led to the Guinea-Bissau Civil War that erupted in 1998. When Senegal decided to send its military into Guinea-Bissau to fight for the local government against Mané's forces, the latter and the MFDC formed a full alliance. The two rebel movements started to fight side by side in both Senegal as well as Guinea-Bissau. Although the Senegal-supported government of Guinea-Bissau collapsed, the following MFDC-sympathetic regime was also overthrown in May 1999.
In an renewed offensive against the separatists between April and June 1999, the Senegalese military shelled Casamance's de facto capital Ziguinchor for the first time, causing numerous civilian casualties and the displacement of 20,000 people along the Senegal–Guinea-Bissau border. From then on, fighting mostly took place in the eastern Kolda Region. Another attempt at peace talks started in December 1999, with Senegalese and MFDC representatives meeting in Banjul. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire.
Peace talks resumed in January 2000, with both sides attempting to end the military conflict and aiming at restoring political and economic normality to Casamance. Discussions were held about the MFDC transforming into a political party, but the talks were hindered by the MFDC's factionalism, and the refusal of the Senegalese government to even consider Casamance's independence. As result, the peace talks collapsed in November 2000, with MFDC leader Augustin Diamacoune Senghor declaring that his group would continue to fight until achieving independence. A new ceasefire was agreed to in March 2001, but failed to stop the conflict. Meanwhile, internal divisions deepened among the MFDC about the movement's aims and Senghor's leadership.
On 30 December 2004, the two sides of the conflict signed a truce, which lasted until August 2006.
Since the split, low-level fighting has continued in the region. Another round of negotiations took place in 2005. Its results were, however, proved partial and armed clashes between MFDC factions and the army continued in 2006, prompting thousands of civilians to flee across the border to The Gambia.
On 13 January 2007, Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, the charismatic leader of MDFC died in Paris. His death hastened the split of the MDFC, which divided into three major armed factions, led by Salif Sadio, Caesar Badiatte, and Mamadou Niantang Diatta respectively.
On 9 June 2009, radical MDFC militants killed a former MFDC member, who at the time was serving as a peace process mediator.
In October 2010, an illegal shipment of arms from Iran was seized in Lagos, Nigeria. The Senegalese government suspected that the arms were destined for the Casamance, and recalled its ambassador to Tehran over the matter. Heavy fighting occurred in December 2010 when about 100 MDFC fighters attempted to take Bignona south of the Gambian border supported by heavy weapons, such as mortars and machine guns. They were repulsed with several casualties by Senegalese soldiers who suffered seven dead in the engagement.
On 21 December 2011, Senegal media reported that 12 soldiers were killed in Senegal's Casamance region following a separatist rebel attack on an army base near the town of Bignona.
Two attacks occurred on 11 and 23 March 2012, leaving 4 soldiers killed and 8 injured.
On 3 February 2013, four people were killed during a bank robbery perpetrated by the MFDC in the town of Kafoutine; the rebels stole a total of $8,400.
On 1 May 2014, one of the leaders of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, Salif Sadio, sued for peace and declared a unilateral cease-fire after secret talks held at the Vatican between his forces and the Government of Senegal led by Macky Sall.
Yahya Jammeh has been known to recruit MFDC fighters into the Gambian military, reportedly since they are more inclined to be loyal to Jammeh's regime than the people of the Gambia. During the 2017 ECOWAS military intervention in the Gambia, MFDC rebels supported pro-Jammeh forces.
Members of the group were suspected of being behind an ambush that left 13 people dead near the town of Ziguinchor on 6 January 2018. Leaders of the MFDC, however, have denied responsibility for the execution-style killing, which they say was connected with the illegal harvesting of teak wood and rosewood from the forested region, not the gathering of firewood.
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