Security personnel have been deployed to the restless border village of Kerr Mot Ali, the scene of violence on Sunday after an alleged arson on two houses sparked tension between the Gambian and Senegalese sides of the village, reopening a deep-seated animosity between the people.
Many years ago, followers of the late controversial scholar and marabout Sering Ndigal were sent away from the village under former president Yahya Jammeh and forced to relocate in Senegal.
The two villages are separated by a border. In 2017, a high court judge ruled that the Ndigal followers should be allowed to return to the Gambia and continue to practice the religion they wish. On Saturday morning, there was an attack in which three houses in the compound of Ali Sowe were set on fire. Three of his houses were burned to ashes. The fighting ensued after a grass house of the marabout of Kerr Mot Ali was burned with the villagers suspecting their Senegalese siblings.
Police deputy spokesman, Inspector Alieu Jamanka confirmed the incident. He said three houses from the same compound were gutted down at Kerr Mot Ali of the Gambian side. “The matter was reported to Njau police station and it is under investigation,” Jamanka said.
The Gambian side is accusing their siblings in the Senegalese end of setting the houses on fire.
But a follower of Ndigal who contacted The Standard yesterday said the houses were burnt by a villager in Kerr Mot Ali (Gambia) and that it was just a strategy to provoke his people.
He said they are being persecuted based on their religious belief and despite winning a court in 2017 for them to return to the country, the government has failed to facilitate their return. “Our homes have been forcefully taken from us and we are forced to stay in exile in another country,” Alie Secka said.
“The person who burnt the house removes all the materials from the house before putting it on fire. We have evidence that it was their own people who set those houses on fire. But the tension started when they attacked one of our relatives who was coming from our Gamo to Kombo. They attacked him and destroyed his vehicle’s glasses. It was after that that our people also came out to the border and the two villages started stoning each other,” Secka said.