- Senegalese police have opened investigations into an armed attack in the southern province of Cassamance where bandits chop off the left ears of at least 16 villagers in Niaguis, 20 km from the regional capital, Ziguinchor.
The 16 villagers, who were attacked as they were harvesting cashew nuts in the troubled rebel region on Wednesday, have had their hands tied before their assailants chopped off their left ears. The mutilation is the first of its kind in Casamance.
The villagers said were first approached by armed men dressed in military attire, threatening to cut off their ears as a punishment for entering the rebel terriroty.
Over the years, cashew nut harvest had been characterised by escalation of violence and armed attacks in Senegal's food basket and vibrant
tourist attraction. Most families in the region and the neighbouring Guinea Bissau depend on cashew nuts for survival .
Until the signing of a peace deal in 2004, the Movement for Democratic Forces of Casamance had been waging a 26-year separatist war with the Senegalese.
Though large part of the region maintains peace, armed robbery and other crimes continue to hunt Casamance residents.
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