Tensions soar as rioters trash Dakar
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Dakar - Violence broke out late on Friday in Tivaouane, seat of Senegal's largest Islamic brotherhood the Tidiane, where the mayor's office was burned down after police hurled teargas into a Dakar mosque, the APS news agency reported.
Protesters set up burning barricades in streets around Tivaouane in western Senegal after riots erupted in the capital Dakar as police tried to quell a banned demonstration, APS reported Saturday.
Tensions soared when riot police threw three teargas grenades into a Tidiane mosque in the centre of Dakar.
“Everything was destroyed, burned. ... Nothing was saved except the registry office because some youths used themselves as shields to preserve this municipal service,” deputy mayor El-Hadj Malick Diop told APS.
He said those responsible were “youths, surely manipulated by politicians who are losing speed.”
Diop, a member of President Abdoulaye Wade's ruling party, said opposition youths had tried to vandalise his home, but his neighbours had stepped in.
Senegal is a 95 percent Muslim nation whose citizens follow one of four Sufi brotherhoods including the Tidiane. The west African nation is known for its religious tolerance.
Just days before a presidential election on February 26, tension over Wade's bid to seek a third term in office - which the opposition says is unconstitutional - is higher than ever with protesters again expected to take to the streets Saturday.
Police engaged in running battles with protesters for hours on Friday afternoon and evening, firing teargas, rubber bullets and water cannon. At one point a policeman struck by a protester's rock fired his pistol.
The seaside capital was left strewn with debris after protesters erected flaming barricades at street intersections, burned tyres, cardboard and wooden tables used by market women to sell their wares. - Sapa-AFP