By Mafugi Ceesay
Personnel of the Police Intervention Unit have yesterday shot and killed two residents of Faraba who were among a group protesting against a sand mining company, the Julakay Group.
Bakary Kujabi, alias Seyfo and Ismaila Bah, all natives of Faraba village, died of gunshot wounds after they clashed with riot police who used live bullets.
Speaking to The Standard, Fatoumata Bah, a sister to one of the victims (Ismaila Bah), said her brother swept his own house yesterday and never returned alive.
In between sobs, she said: “I want to die and follow my brother. I cannot bear it anymore! How can they kill my brother who had no weapon and was harmless? The PIU shot him dead.”
Mba Jai Sanyang, a witness to the fatal clash that also left many seriously injured, explained: “We went out to stop the trucks of Julakay from taking the sand and all of a sudden PIU officials shot us with live bullets. They followed people in their houses, tortured and arrested many youth and insulted our parents.”
The distraught lady added:”We are asking the government, is it the right of the PIU whose mandate is to protect lives to turn against their own mandate and kill?”
Sira Jibba, another witness, said: “Is this why we voted for President Adama Barrow? We voted for him to protect our human rights, our lives and our properties but what we are experiencing today in Faraba is quite the opposite.”
Aja Sanyang, another witness, told The Standard that they voted Jammeh out because they wanted their rights and dignity back. “But this is opposite. PIU officials came and met my mother sitting at the compound gate and asked her to get inside. While she was trying to get in, they started insulting her. Police are here to protect us but not take our lives. One of the people they killed was standing right beside me but because I understand guns, upon hearing ‘hold…meh’, I quickly moved because I knew they would pull the trigger.
But they shot him dead. They kept saying ‘today is to kill them all…these bad people’. Should an individual business of Julakay make the PIU kill people? They were using live bullet rounds, shooting people,” she said.
Mamma Kandeh, leader of the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress, GDC who swiftly appeared at the scene, told The Standard that he would call a press conference to address the many issues that the government is silent about.
“They should talk…They should take the leadership action and make sure that we all understand that there is a government that is representing every individual and not representing a few. You cannot protect the interest of an individual against that of an entire community. It is not just possible. It is the law that says the PIU should protect lives and properties; that is why they have been recruited as security personnel. They have no right to insult anybody and in fact no right to torture,” Kandeh said.
The GDC leader stressed that the PIU should have other means of calming the situation without using live bullets on people.
However after the GDC leader left, the temporary truce ended abruptly as the angry youths went on a burning rampage setting alight compounds of elders they accused of conniving with the sand mining company. The compounds of Jamba Wurry Sanyang, Bakary Saidy and two others were burnt to ashes. The youths also burned the offices of the mining compound, a caterpillar and two trucks.
There were unconfirmed reports that a third civilian died of his injuries.