Gunmen kidnap 12 mine clearance workers in southern Senegal

DAKAR (REUTERS) - Gunmen suspected of belonging to a Senegalese separatist movement abducted 12 employees of a South African mine clearance company in the West African nation's restive Casamance region, military and civilian officials said on Sunday.

The workers, all Senegalese, were on their way to inspect a mine field that had been cleared of explosives when they were kidnapped on Friday by men believed to belong to the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC).

"I can confirm that 12 people were in fact kidnapped by an armed group. These people were working in de-mining (projects),"Senegalese army spokesman Abou Thiam told Reuters.

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