24 C
City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ATTEMPTED COUP QUASHED?

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A resident of Banjul told The Standard that sporadic gunfire was heard in the capital from about 3am and unconfirmed sources said at least four people may have been killed in the night’s fighting. The identities of the casualties have not been revealed.  No one at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital could confirm the deaths and the injuries and the hospital’s mortuary was inaccessible.

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The Quadrangle and administrative office quarters of the capital including the State House area were under lockdown for the greater part of Tuesday. Ordinary traffic of vehicles and people from and into the city were severely curtailed for much of the day as armed soldiers blocked the Banjul-Serekunda Highway from around the Kamalo junction.  

State radio and television was off air in the morning but transmissions resumed before midday. The secretary general at the office of the President, Dr Kalidu Bayo, issued a press release which states: “Contrary to rumours being circulated, peace and calm continue to prevail in The Gambia, and The Government would like to urge the general public and all businesses to carry on with their normal activities, as usual. May Allah the Almighty continue to strengthen our faith and bestow His infinite blessings upon The Gambia and its peace-loving people.” 

No further information was forthcoming from the government until we went to press. However, AFP news agency quoted a Gambian diplomat who said the State House in the heart of the city on the Gambia river was attacked at around 3:00 am by armed men.

“They wanted to overthrow the regime,” a military source told AFP, while a Western diplomat said a coup attempt has “apparently been foiled and police and the army are now entirely in control of the situation”.

The US Embassy in The Gambia reported on its Facebook page that it has received reports of a possible coup attempt in Banjul and that Denton Bridge was closed to traffic. “All US citizens are strongly advised to avoid Denton Bridge and Banjul,” it stated.  The New York Times quoted Dan Whitman as saying “It seems a coup attempt occurred last night. There has been no sign of transfer of political or military power.”

Banjul based airline, Gambia Bird, has announced the suspension of all its flights from Gambia with effect from today.

Meanwhile, the alleged leader of the attempted coup Lt Col Lamin Sanneh, was said to have been born in Kalagi, Foni Jarrol in 1979. He attended Tankular Primary School, Brikama Junior Secondary School and Nusrat Senior Secondary School before joining the army in the year 2000.  He obtained AAT from the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) in 2002 before proceeding to the University of The Gambia where he graduated in 2009 with a BSC in Management and Finance. In 2012, he graduated with an MA in Strategic Security Studies at the National Defence University, Washington, USA. 

He obtained a diploma in Security Strategy and Irregular Warfare from the National War College and Diploma in International Fellowship Programme. 

He also attended military training in United Kingdom at the Royal Military Academy and other programmes in the Land Warfare Centre 4th Battalion and Bridge Command Courses. He also attended trainings in the US, Ghana, Taiwan, Senegal and Mali. 

He later became commander of the State Guards before being removed and redeployed to the training school.

Shortly afterwards, he surreptitiously fled to Dakar before resettling in Maryland, USA with his wife, and three kids a little over a year ago. 

More details are expected to be released once President Jammeh returns to Banjul by Wednesday.  By the time we went to press, international news agencies were reporting that President Jammeh was flying to Banjul and that his aircraft made a brief stopover at Ndjamena, Chad.

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