By Mafugi Ceesay & Alagie Manneh
An angry mob stormed and set ablaze Sanyang police station yesterday following the killing of a native of the town Gibril Ceesay, allegedly by a Senegalese fisherman.
Lamin Kujabi, a witness who spoke to The Standard, said the suspected killer is a staff of the Chinese fishmeal factory and that he stabbed Gibril, who was trying to stop him from robbing his ‘white’ friend.
“We rushed the victim to the hospital but the doctors demanded a police report first before treating him and before that could be obtained, he died,” Kujabi alleged. The witness added that the killer, who has not yet been officially identified, had tried to escape on a boat with other people but was apprehended by the Sanyang mob.
The witness further added that it was not clear why the police station and the Chinese factory were targeted but another source said there have been uneasy relations between natives of the village and some foreign fishermen with a number of incidents reported in the recent past. He said the natives have often accused the police of a lukewarm attitude in handling such incidents and this might have led them to target the station in yesterday’s protest over the killing of Ceesay.
Fatou Njie, in tears, explained that the victim Gibril was very young and had just started building a family and was blessed with a child a week ago.
Senegalese fishermen flee
Meanwhile, The Standard has learnt that scores of Senegalese fishermen in the town fled for fear of their lives after the angry mob allegedly targeted them as they protested the killing of Ceesay.
A Senegalese fisherman, who boarded a fleeing boat, released a video yesterday evening in which he accused the mobsters of using “cutlasses and taking our monies in millions”.
“They beat Senegalese who were only there to work,” the man said. “They threw invectives at us, and did what they want to us, for what?” he asked.
The man, who was on board with dozen others, said they were migrating to a different place where it is peaceful and serene to do their work.
He called on the Senegalese government to immediately engage its Gambian counterparts to resolve the situation.
“President Macky Sall should talk to President Barrow so that the Senegalese in Sanyang can have peace and do their work”.
Meanwhile, more than 200 other Senegalese fishermen who were at sea at the time of the incident were diverted to Batokunku, where a school compound has been provided for them as temporary settlement.
Up to press time last night, the fishmeal factory was still burning as fire fighters struggled to put out the flames.
The deputy governor of West Coast Region, Musa Suso, spent much of last night in the area coordinating peaceful handling of the matter.
A large contingent of personnel from the Gambia Police Force was earlier deployed to disperse the rioters with dozens of arrests reported.
A source said the police have managed to save and protect some of their files and have since put a makeshift office under a mango tree.
According to Red Cross sources, over 20 protesters were registered to have sustained injuries in the melee which also reportedly targeted the Chinese fishmeal factory.
The police spokesman, Superintendent Lamin Njie confirmed the arrest of a murder suspect in Sanyang, where he also confirmed there have been reports of a riot.
Njie however said all these matters are being investigated and further information would follow.