Police shut down Senegal's leading private radio station after interview

Police shut down one of Senegal's leading private radio stations Monday, after the broadcaster carried an interview with a separatist. "The police came and told us to stop broadcasting," Sud FM journalist Pape Ale Niang told private radio Walf Fadjri as he was driven away in a police van.

Niang said the shutdown came after an interview carried earlier Monday with Salif Sadio, who calls for the independence of southern Casamance province, which is separated from most of the rest of Senegal by Gambia.

Government officials could not be reached for comment. Sud FM was off the air.

In October 2003, Senegal expelled a French journalist working for Radio France Internationale, accusing her of unbalanced coverage of peace talks involving separatist groups in Casamance. Sophie Malibeau had interviewed hard-line separatist Alexandre Djiba, who called for a boycott of a round of peace talks.

Separatists have been pressing for an independent Casamance since 1982. They argue that France never fully colonized their region, so when Senegal gained independence in 1960, the south should have become a separate nation.

Though battles are now relatively rare, insurgent hard-liners have kept up sporadic hit-and-run attacks. Some 1,200 have died in fighting over the last two decades, reports the AP. I.L.

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