Four people have been killed amid protests sparked by the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko.
There has been heightened tension in Senegal following Sonko’s arrest. He appeared in court on Friday on rape charges and was remanded into custody.
Clashes erupted in Dakar on Thursday between his supporters and law enforcement officials over the arrest.
The protesters set barricades and threw projectiles at riot police who also responded by shooting tear gas and other types of non-lethal ammunition into the protesters.
Senegal’s government has vowed to use “all means necessary” to return order following the violent event.
Interior Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome said on television that “The government regrets the loss of four lives.”
He claimed the agitations were “rooted in banditry and insurrection” as he accused Sonko of “issuing calls to violence”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has now urged all sides to avoid any further escalation of the violence.
His spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that “The protests must remain peaceful, and the security and police forces must at all times operate… in line with international human rights standards.”
Sonko, placed third in the 2019 presidential elections and is considered a strong contender for the scheduled 2024 vote.
He has described the case against him as politically motivated and an attempt by President Macky Sall’s allies to prevent him from running in the next election.