Senegal and Spain’s interior ministers in contact regarding alleged rapes

Senegalese Casamance River and Area

PARIS, France––The interior ministers of Senegal and Spain have confirmed that their countries are in communication regarding the case of four Spanish tourists robbed and allegedly raped last month in Senegal’s restive Casamance region.

According to reliable sources and police report, three women were dragged into a forest and raped after their vehicle was stopped on January 25 near the village of Karonge, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the regional capital Ziguinchor.

The Spanish women were also robbed of some 5,000 euros worth of local currency before they were finally released by their abductors and rapists.

After talks in Dakar with Senegalese counterpart Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, the Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said, “I am in touch with the Spanish embassy and the minister has told me investigations are underway and will soon be completed.”

Adding, he had been keeping a close focus on developments from the outset.

For his part, Senegal’s interior minister Ndiaye said, “We are awaiting the conclusions of the investigation.”  Adding, two of the rape victims had returned home and the third remained on vacation in Senegal.

Women Rights groups expressed utmost surprise and condemned the Senegalese interior minister for his initial reaction after the incident.  Three days after the attack on the women, Ndiaye, in a radio interview expressed doubts on the assault after only one woman agreed to a medical examination and that in her case there was “no trace of rape.”

He added that no jewelry or watches were stolen in the attack despite cash being taken.

The Spanish foreign ministry had earlier indicated it would not comment until the victims had “themselves explained” what had happened near the small town of Diouloulou.

Sources say the attack in the restive region came three weeks after 14 young Senegalese men were executed in a protected forest, reigniting a serious debate over rebel and criminal groups.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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