Senegal protests escalate following detention of opposition leader Sonko

Protests escalated in Senegal Friday as hundreds of demonstrators marched through Dakar to show support for arrested opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. The crowd walked towards the presidential palace, burning tires and ransacking government buildings on their way.

On Friday, Sonko made his first court appearance since his arrest triggered two days of demonstrations and clashes with riot police, which left at least one person reported killed and several French-owned shops and petrol stations ransacked.

In response to intensifying protests, Senegalese authorities restricted internet access and suspended broadcasting by two private TV channels that covered the protests.

A lawyer for Sonko said he was being charged with rape and making threats. Sonko, a tax inspector with a strong following among youth, has denied wrongdoing and says accusations against him are part of a pattern by the authorities of using criminal charges to block opponents from standing in elections.

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