One person has been confirmed dead while another is critically injured from a list of six protesters with gunshot wounds from Friday’s demonstration in Kanilai, the home village of former President Yahya Jammeh. The dead man is one Haruna Jatta.
According to Army Spokesman Lt Col. Omar Bojang, the demonstrators had called for the removal of soldiers from the Gambia Armed Forces and the regional Ecomig troops from Foni.
“Somehow their encounter with the Gambia Armed Forces went peacefully but tension erupted in their encounter with Ecomig and as a result, six people sustained injuries, two of them serious and by Saturday morning, it was reported that one of them unfortunately passed away,” Lt Col Bojang told The Standard.
He further explained that the presence of the security forces in the area is for the protection of the people and the territorial integrity of the country. “We all know of course that the area is near a conflict zone and naturally security are there to prevent armed incursions into The Gambia and to protect the citizens,” he said.
Bojang also added that Ecomig too are mandated to ensure the security of The Gambia as well. He called on all citizens to realise that they are the greatest beneficiaries of the work of the security forces which enables all to go to bed in peace each day.
Since Friday, social media is loaded with videos of the protest, including burning of tyres and carrying of banners some of which reminded the people that Foni is part of The Gambia despite political differences.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty in a late night statement on the state broadcaster, GRTS, condemned what he called the actions taken by the residents of Foni particularly the people of Kanilai and border villages of Casamance who took to the streets without acquiring a permit to protest. Fatty alleged that some of the protesters were also said to have carried local arms demanding that the joint security including the ECOMIG forces leave the village.
“During the exchange two protesters and one ECOMIG officer were injured. Unfortunately, one of the injured protestors died this morning [Saturday] at the EFST Hospital in Banjul,” Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said. The minster disclosed that some 22 people have been arrested in the incident while a man hunt is under way for the Alkalo of Kanilai.
The Minister said President Barrow had convened an emergency security meeting with the security chiefs to address the circumstances prevailing in the country particularly the Kanilai incident. He went on to say that Ecomig came into The Gambia because the former president refused to step down and hand over power peacefully after the Gambian people decided to vote him out last December. The Minister further said while the constitution guarantees the right for peaceful protest or freedom of assembly or association but it must be exercised within the confines of the law.
“You either abide by the law or you will be consumed by the law,” he warned. He commended the security forces saying they have exercised restraint during the confrontation with protesters.
Interior Minister Fatty earlier posted on his Facebook page that he had cut short his trip to Monrovia attending ECOWAS security Ministerial meeting.