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Jan 15, 8:58 AM EST

Authorities arrest 22 after massacre in southern Senegal

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Authorities arrest 22 after massacre in southern Senegal

ZIGUINCHOR, Senegal (AP) -- Authorities in Senegal have arrested 22 people following a massacre in the country's southern Casamance region where the suspects had been looking for firewood in the forest.

Abdou Sane, president of the youth association in the village where the arrests took place, said Monday that authorities arrived at Toubacouta at dawn Sunday.

Officials said four of the suspects have previously been convicted of wood smuggling charges and sentenced to a month in prison.

Authorities initially feared that the killings of 14 people in the forest earlier this month were connected to a separatist group. Rebels in Casamance have sought independence for decades. However, officials now believe the deaths could be linked to the region's illegal timber industry.

The violence was the worst to hit the restive region in years.

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