The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) on Wednesday March 8, 2017, embarked on a day long destruction of Anti Personnel Mines (APMs) and expired munitions in Sabach Sanjal, North Bank Region. GAF in collaboration with ECOMIG forces begun the destruction of the APMs as well as expired munitions in GAF’s ammunition inventory on February 24, 2017 and this is the second of its kind.
According to the GAF public relation officer, Lieutenant Kemo Kanuteh, in his opening statement said the destruction exercise is in conformity with Gambia’s strong commitment to the Ottawa Convention which became a legally binding treaty which bans the production, stockpiling, use and transfer of APMs. He added that the treaty places an obligation on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. “The treaty is the first frame work for solving the problems still pose by APMs all over the world” he asserted.
Captain Bubacar Bah, the head of the conductive officers said during the last operation prior this no one was injured nor casualty. He invited the dignitaries to the place where the APMs and the expired munitions to witness and he further explain how destructive they are. According to him most of the with slightest weigh on them can explode and cause severe injuries and most often death.
Among the dignitaries present were the Nigerian High Commissioner, Mauritanian Consulate, Director National Disaster Management Agency and the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Yankuba Drammeh as well as some senior military officers. According to the PRO Kanuteh, 265 Anti Personnel Mines, 27 RPG and fuses, 30 Chinese Stick Grenade and 30 Apple Grenade were destroyed. The destruction officer, Captain Bah communicated to the PRO the times the explosions will occur for the people sitting about 300 meters to be cautious. The explosion were in three stages in which the first stage there was only one heavy explosion, the second stage is one explosion as the first stage whilst the third stage had three explosion successively occurring in sequence with very heavy sound and fire was seen in all the tree stages.
After each explosion, this reporter observed that the first explosion uprooted the roots of a tree situated 15 meters from where the explosion was done leaving a very large hole. In the second stage, it was observed that with just one blast, fire was seen and the sound was very heavy leaving a hole bigger than the previous one. In the final stage of the destruction, the explosion occurred thrice and heavy fire was seen lightening in the atmosphere.
Report by MS Bah