By Tabora Boajng
A mob attacked Bakau police station demanding to deal with a suspect arrested in connection with the disappearance of a taxi driver from Bakau whose body was found reportedly mutilated in Salagi.
A number of police officers, civilians and a cameraman were wounded while the police station was vandalised in the melee as police threw tear gas to disperse the mob who burnt tyres and rampaged the main highway and other roads in Bakau.
The mob stormed the station after learning that a dead body found wrapped in a bag in Salagi was identified by the family to be that of Omar Sonko, the missing driver.
Immediately all attention focused on the 46-year-old suspect held since Tuesday by the police investigating the missing driver’s case.
Scores of youths turned up around the station chanting “We need justice!”, “We want to kill him the same way he killed our brother!” and demanded the police hand over the suspect to them.
A small contingent of soldiers from nearby Fajara Barracks came to the scene to help calm tensions before the arrival riot police.
The Bakau station officer Foday Conta and Deputy Police Superintendent Modou Faye, worked hard to calm the protesting youths telling them the suspect was not in their custody and was transferred to Banjul.
However, the situation got out of hand following the arrival of a heavy reinforcement of PIU officers whose arrival agitated the mob and stones started to rain, beginning a five- hour long running battle between the PIU and the protesters.
Unable to contain the situation as they ran out of tear gas, the police pleaded with the protesters to calm down but the atmosphere continued to get tense as more and more youths emerged with cutlasses and machetes.
The police brought in more reinforcement and fired more tear gas.
As the tension continued, the police resorted to calling the Bakau Alkalo Dodou Bojang to calm down his people. He arrived and was seen talking to the mob to restrain calm but the youths did not listen to him and the tension mounted.
“What has happened is unfortunate but we have laws governing this country. No one takes the law into your hands. What the youths are doing here is unlawful. We spoke to them and some moved but some are still around,” the alkalo said.
Speaking to journalists on the ground, Police SpokespersonCadet ASP Binta Njie, said they have have gathered sufficient information and will proceed with prosecution as soon as possible.
“It is unfortunate that the station that is meant to be the place where people can go and express their grievances is targeted by the people it is meant for. However, we are urging every resident of Bakau to maintain restraint calm and understand that we are going to do our best to ensure justice is served in this matter,” she said.
At the time of going to press a number of PIU officers were deployed to the Atlas petrol station in Bakau to protect it from getting burnt amid sustained firing of gas canisters, stones and bottles.