By Lamin Cham & Tabora Bojang
Following Monday’s deadly clash between Ecomig and MFDC rebels in Foni, the National Assembly Member for Kansala said he conducted a fact-finding in the area to assess the situation.
On his return yesterday, Musa Amul Nyassi told The Standard that the incident has caused great insecurity and fear in many communities in the area. “I was there yesterday [Monday] but I could not go to the border villages themselves because there was intense firing and it was actually life-threatening, so I was advised not to get close to where the shooting was taking place but I was at Kampanti and then from there, I headed to Bwiam,” he said.
Asked about the exact incident, Nyassi said: “From sources, I was told there were two vehicles loaded with logs which were coming towards where the Senegalese forces were stationed around the border line. So when they got information that the Senegalese forces are on the border line, they took a U-turn and when the Senegalese soldiers realised that the trucks were retreating, they chased them. I was told one of them disappeared but they followed the other truck into Casamance, unknowing to them that they are out of the Gambian territory and so upon entering Casamance, they were ambushed by the rebels and sources say one of the Senegalese vehicles was apprehended with soldiers on board. Eye witnesses also told me that the vehicle belonging to the Senegalese soldiers was burnt to ashes and then pushed into Gambian territory and then the captives could not be accounted for but I understand some of the dead bodies were also alongside the vehicle thrown around the Gambian border”.
He further disclosed that about four to five communities or more along the border have all scattered and are now in Kampanti, Bujinga, Bajagarr, Bujiling, Arangalen and other places, adding that some even managed to travel to Kombo feeling insecure in the Foni area.
“They are traumatised, and their children’s schooling too has been disrupted. Feeding has also been a challenge because as I am talking to you, some of them left their native villages in a hurry and had no time to prepare food for their family,” Nyassi said.
CID officer and Alkalo missing
“There was a CID officer by the name Abdou Jarju who was on patrol with his colleague, an intelligence officer, and both of them were apprehended by the Senegalese soldiers. Jarju was without his ID documents as they left to the area in hurry to investigate and so he was held by the soldiers while his colleague, who showed his documents, was released by the soldiers. Abdou is still in the hands of the Senegalese soldiers and we have no information whether he is still safe. I have reached out to all security authorities and people in key positions in government but his whereabouts are still not known to us,” Nyass said. The Kansala NAM said in fact, the alkalo of one of the affected villages Modou Bojang of Karol village was also reported to have been held by the Senegalese soldiers and it is not yet known whether he is alive.
According to NAM Nyassi, the two governments [Gambia and Senegal] should engage without any further delay on this matter and the Senegalese must desist from any operations within the border area and those dealing in logs should suspend all activities with immediate effect.
“No log should be allowed to be transported to this country at this material time until such a time the tension is diffused. If I am in the position, I was going to put an immediate sanction on log transportation into The Gambia regardless of where it is coming from. Government should engage without any further delay and they must also make sure the Senegalese soldiers going around the border stop it,” he said.