The security situation in southwestern Gambia is tense as the unrest in the native village of defeated president, Yahya Jammeh continues and remains unstable.
Gambian authorities have reinforced troops in the village, close to the border with the southern Senegalese region of Casamance, where Jammeh avowedly financed and supported separatist rebels.
Riot police have also been deployed to strategic locations in the Foni region and the Gambia’s Minister for Interior, Mai Ahmad Fatty has cut short his meeting with other regional ministers to focus on growing uproar in Kanilai.
“In addition to the on-going far-reaching durable measures aimed at strengthening public security and national stability, I will address the nation tonight,” said Fatty.
“The peace, safety, and security of our nation and people must remain the top most priority.”
At least 13 people have been reportedly arrested across the region for leading or taking part in Friday’s “illegal protest” that left at least one person dead and several people injured.
Tens of demonstrators approached regional troops stationed in Kanilai demanding their exit from the village and the return of Jammeh’s domestic assets seized by Gambian authorities.
Jammeh is accused of mismanaging and stealing billions during his 22-year rule of the tiny West African state, mainland Africa’s smallest.
The Justice Department secured a court order to have his assets frozen, a move that has affected hundreds of landed properties, including his mega mansion in Kanilai.
Friday’s protest turned violent after regional troops were reportedly attacked by angry villagers, some of whom had a locally made firearm called ‘kartous,’ and some members of Gambia;s army still loyal to Jammeh.
Tires were burnt and access to the village was blocked. Demonstrators pushed over security barricades and started rioting in an attempt to force their way into the former presidential compound.
The Justice Department has sent a fact-finding mission to Kanilai, where investigations into the death of Haruna Jatta, 54, became the center of the inquiry.
West African forces were deployed to the Gambia in January when Jammeh’s term ended and refused to step aside. His refusal to hand over to Barrow almost ignited a civil war foiled by the regional troops that are now helping to stabilize the country and return it to normalcy.