By Alagie Manneh
The Senegalese High Commissioner to The Gambia has rejected claims that Senegalese soldiers attacked Gambians with drones which killed three people in Foñi. Ambassador Bassirou Sène said that could only be fake news.
Four men – Demba Colley, 23, Alagie Kolley, 23 and Ebrima Colley, 20– and Yankuba Badjie all residents of Foni were found dead across the border in Casamance allegedly killed by drones released by Senegalese soldiers.
The Gambia government said it will investigate the incidents and added that the men were non-Gambians, a claim disputed by their families and National Assembly Member for the area. Commenting on the matter yesterday in an interview with The Standard, Ambassador Sène suggested that the reports could be confused with the current fighting in the southern separatist region of Senegal where the Senegalese army is engaged in a battle with the separatist forces of Casamance.
“That is completely a different thing because that is a battlefield. One must not go there if one is not in the army or a member of MFDC. You do not need to go there. It’s a battlefield. If you go there, it will be your responsibility if anything happens to you,” he said.
Sene said he finds it very hard to digest that Senegalese soldiers will fire at Gambians. “No. There is no investigation which shows that it was the Senegalese soldiers who fired at Gambians. No. This is fake news, intended only to give a bad name to the Senegalese army. The Senegalese army is very professional, well-equipped, and well-trained in the highest military schools around the world. So they can’t kill or open fire on civilians. So, it is nonsense to say that Senegalese fired on Gambians,” Ambassador Sene noted.
He said that the mandate of the Senegalese forces is to secure, and as such, they couldn’t open fire on anyone within Gambian borders. “If your mandate is to secure, you can’t fire on people. It is nonsense. Please, my brother, underline the word ‘nonsense”.
Ambassador Sène also took time to reiterate that the Senegalese army is here in The Gambia under the umbrella of Ecowas and by a decision of Ecowas.
“It is unfair therefore to say that the continuous presence of the Ecomig in The Gambia is undermining the territorial integrity of the country. How are they undermining The Gambia’s integrity? Do they occupy, illegally, one percent of the Gambian territory? Are they doing something illegal? They are here to secure the constitution of the Republic of The Gambia,” he said.
Ambassador Sene said many people have forgotten why Ecomig came to The Gambia to begin with.
“They now forgot what happened in 2016. They seem to forget all that, [but] they must not forget. There was a problem here and the force was necessary for Mr Jammeh to leave the country,” he said.