Dakar              -       Senegalese police arrested more than 70 people after protests tinged by violence broke out in several cities across the West African country demanding a nighttime coronavirus curfew be lifted.

The protests over the 9pm and 5am curfew started on Tuesday and continued into the night, their severity prompting an appeal for calm by a major Muslim leader. In Touba, a religious hub 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Dakar, three police vehicles and an ambulance were set ablaze, a senior official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A coronavirus treatment centre there was attacked and the windows of the offices of electricity provider Senelec were smashed, the source said.

Witnesses added that post office buildings in Touba -- the seat of the politically powerful Sufi Muslim order called the Mouride Brotherhood -- were attacked.

In the neighbouring town of Mbacke, protesters damaged the local headquarters of radio station RFM, which is owned by singer and former minister Youssou N’Dour, according to the local journalists’ association 3CM.

The group said in a statement that it “firmly condemns these acts of vandalism” and “calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of the media during this period of riots”.

In a separate statement, the Council of Broadcasters and Press Publishers of Senegal (CDEPS) said “those responsible for this rampage must be tracked down and brought to justice”. Protestors also erected barricades and burned tyres in Mbacke, other witnesses said.

The Senegalese media added demonstrations also occurred in Tambacounda, in the east of the country, and Diourbel, in the west.

There were 74 arrests -- 29 in Touba, 38 in Mbacke, five in Tambacounda and two in Diourbel -- a source close to the case said on Wednesday.