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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Senegalese ‘pirates’ threaten Gambians at sea

Explaining to The Standard, Captain Camara said the pirates mistook his five-member crew boat for a boat carrying goods. He said: “Most of my boys were sleeping when the pirates spotted us. They waved their hands for us to stop our boat. As they approached with speed, I turned off the engine and two of them jumped into our boat. I asked them, what was the problem and what they   wanted?  Then one of them told me to jump into their boat. I refused. I told him our boat was a mere fishing boat and we were not laden with any sugar or rice.  

“But they insisted I must abandon my boat. One of them roped our boat to theirs, and the others tried to force me into their boat. I resisted, so we pushed and pulled and in the melee I hurt my arm and legs. Then one of them believed to be their leader pulled out a gun and fired a shot towards the sky. I believe it was a rubber bullet. They threatened to use a real one and kill us all if we did not follow their orders. They wanted my boat to follow theirs out of Gambian waters,” he explained.

Captain Camara, a football player who guided The Gambia to glory in the under-17 African Championship in Algeria in 2009, added: “There was another Gambian boat passing by that saw the scuffle and then rushed to our rescue after I signaled them with a paddle. The people from the other boat were also very angry, realising that we are not in the Senegalese sea. As the Gambian boat approached, the pirates withdrew from our boat and haughtily told us we can report them to whoever we wanted and nothing would come out of it.”

Ousainou Saine, another fisherman told The Standard this was not the first time Senegalese pirates attacked Gambian fishing boats at high sea. He explained: “This is the third time pirates attacked us in Gambian waters. They have attacked us before and we reported the matter to the Marines. I have also reported the matter to the Fire and Rescue Services. They attacked another guy in the sea some time ago and we did not bother reporting the matter because nothing came out of our previous reports. Following this latest attack, we went to the Fire and Rescue Service men again to report and also to the Bakau Police Station where the station officer said he will pass on our report.”

Saine, who said he has been a fisherman since 1971, urged the government to step up its efforts in addressing the issue. Saine said he traveled to Senegal and Guinea Bissau and he has seen the manner in which these respective countries protect their seas. He said he was impressed.


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