Fighting breaks out between forces loyal to Gambia’s ousted dictator, regional troops

Fighting breaks out between forces loyal to Gambia’s ousted dictator, regional troops

Two Gambian soldiers in ex-dictator, Yahya Jammeh’s home of Kanilai were shot in the leg after attacking regional forces securing the West African nation and its new president, Adama Barrow.

Regional troops, mostly Senegalese forces were on patrol in the southern Gambia region of Foni when at least two Gambian soldiers confronted them accusing the ECOMIG troops of being “invaders,” and physically attacking them.

West African troops were deployed after Jammeh refused to cede power to Barrow. He fled to Equatorial Guinea after Guinea’s Lasana Conte and Mauritania’s Mohammed Ould Adul Aziz led mediation efforts to avert his arrest by the regional troops that were advancing towards the capital and poised to have him arrested or killed.

President Barrow had ordered all Gambian soldiers to hand over their weapons to ECOMIG. A cache of missing heavy weapons from Jammeh’s palace in Kanilai was recovered in January and the local army was demobilized.

Barrow had warned soldiers who failed to return their weapons and cooperate with the regional troops that they will treated as rebels. At least one Gambian soldier is in court for carrying a loaded weapon into a mosque in Banjul, where President Barrow was attending Friday prayers.

Foni is now an opposition stronghold, where Jammeh continues to have strong support. It has been the epicenter of post-electoral violence after the UDP, the party from which Barrow resigned from to lead the coalition government won a majority of the seats in the parliament.

At least 26 people were arrested in the Foni city of Sibanor, including a soldier and two prison officers. Gambia’s Homeland Security Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty held talks with local chiefs and religious leaders in the region over sporadic violence escalating there.

President Adama Barrow has warned against post-electoral violence and warned those found wanting be will be dealt with swiftly. He has pledged to set up a truth commission to investigate allegations of torture and killings by Jammeh.

Gambian authorities dropped charges against 22 supporters of Jammeh’s party, APRC from region after they were indicted for attacking Barrow’s supporters who were returning from his inauguration. APRC supporters have been accused of attacking mainly UDP supporters, wounding at least 10 people ahead of parliamentary polls.

Jammeh, who has been backed by the military, is accused of recruiting rebel fighters from the Casamance region and his tribesmen, who are mainly from the Foni region into the army.

The Gambia’s army has thwarted at least a dozen coups against Jammeh and stands accused of committing human rights abuses and crimes against the state.

A dozen members of a special hit squad sanctioned by Jammeh have been arrested since his ouster, and helped in uncovering a handful of mass graves and the whereabouts to dozens of Jammeh’s perceived enemies, including two Americans, murdered by his regime.

President Barrow has vowed to reform the Gambia’s military and appointed his National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh as his Defense Chief. General Sanneh had served as Jammeh’s military chief before being deployed to Foreign Service.

West African troops are to start vetting Gambia’s military. Jammeh is said to still have loyalist in the army. Barrow has reinstated at least 14 former senior military officers, including at least seven, who were accused of attempting to overthrow Jammeh.

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