Guinea-Bissau partially closes border with Senegal amid clashes

Guinea-Bissau's President Umaro Sissoco Embalo speaks during a press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa on April 28, 2022. (Photograph: Phil Magakoe / AFP)

The President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embalo told AFP Wednesday that he ordered the partial closure of its border with Senegal after deadly clashes erupted between two Muslim communities.

The two communities in southern Senegal have long been at loggerheads over control of the local main mosque and accuse each other of being at the root of tensions that have led to several deaths in the past.

During Eid on Monday, clashes between the two communities erupted in the holy town of Medina Gounass — just a few kilometres from Guinea-Bissau.

One person died and around 20 others were injured, according to the interior ministry.

President Embalo said that following Monday’s clashes, “one of the communities (had) called in reinforcements” living in Guinea-Bissau.

“I immediately took the decision to close this part of the border to prevent any escalation of violence. My country’s security forces are ensuring that this measure is scrupulously respected,” he added.

Senegal and Guinea-Bissau share a 300-kilometre (186-mile) border.

Located more than 500 kilometres from Dakar, Medina Gounass hosts an annual 10-day pilgrimage attended by thousands of Muslims.