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DAKAR (Reuters) - Bandits attacked a group of Spanish tourists in Senegal and raped two women before making off with thousands of euros in cash, a Senegalese army colonel said on Friday.

The attack occurred on Thursday near the small town of Diouloulou in the southern Casamance region, one of the poorest in Senegal though popular with tourists for its tropical forests and sandy beaches, the colonel told Reuters by telephone.

The Spanish Embassy in Senegal confirmed that four tourists were assaulted in Casamance but did not comment on the rape report. Spain's Foreign Ministry said it was offering consular assistance to a group of Spanish nationals in Senegal.

It was the second violent incident in Casamance this year, raising concerns that worsening security there might damage one of Senegal's main tourist attractions.

The Spanish group was travelling in a hired vehicle with a Senegalese driver. An armed band stopped and hijacked their car, then seized over 4,000 euros (£3,508) in cash and raped two women on the roadside before fleeing, according to the colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the Senegalese army was searching for the attackers.

Earlier this month, unidentified gunmen in Casamance attacked a group of civilians searching for firewood, killing 14 and wounding several others. The motives for the shooting remain unknown, and the army has since been deployed into the area to investigate.

(Reporting by Diadie Ba and Emma Pinedo; writing by Sofia Christensen; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Reuters