Senegal death toll rises to 15 as tensions persist
Tensions remained high in Senegal Saturday after clashes brought the death toll to 15 since a court convicted opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
Sonko's ongoing legal woes have prompted rare flare-ups of violence in Senegal, typically a bastion of stability in West Africa, and foreign allies have urged a return to calm.
Disturbances were reported on Saturday in the suburbs of the capital Dakar.
But several neighbourhoods that had experienced outbursts of violence Thursday and Friday remained calm, said the minister of the interior, saying there had been "a drop in intensity" of the demonstrations.
Antoine Diome said "about 500 arrests" had been made since the start of the protest movement.
He added that the government suspected overseas involvement.
Sonko, a 48-year-old former tax inspector, was initially charged with rape but was on Thursday convicted on a lesser charge of morally "corrupting" a young woman and sentenced to two years in prison.
He claims the charges against him were a bid by the government to torpedo his political career ahead of the presidential election next year.
His conviction may take him out of the running for the 2024 poll.
Clashes between Sonko's supporters and police broke out after the ruling, leading to 15 deaths over two days, according to government figures.
Shops and businesses were ransacked.
The army was deployed to the streets but scuffles erupted on Friday night in parts of the capital, Dakar, and in Ziguinchor.