Disturbing reports reaching Gainako this morning and reported in other sister papers in the Gambia indicate that Police Intervention Unit open fired on civilian protesters killing two and injuring several with some sustaining life threatening injuries. The incident occurred at Faraba Banta a village several miles outside the capital Banjul. The confrontations started when villagers were notified during dawn prayers that Julakaye and his trucks are at the scene mining sand. The villagers went out to peacefully confront the trucks but were met with the PIU.
According to eyewitness reports the PIU asked the crowd to disperse but tension persisted. They began to use tear gas on the protesters but were quickly out manned by the civilian protesters. The PIU called for re-enforcement which led to the use of live – bullets killing two civilians and injuring many. Several PIU officers were also reportedly injured during the altercation. The angry villagers ransacked the Newly sworn in Village Chiefs’s and several others’ compounds.
There has been an ongoing dispute and conflict between the villagers of Faraba and one businessman known as Julakaye who is doing sand mining in the community. The community are angry that a license to mine sand was issued to Julakaye in 2017 without the consent and approval of the villagers According to information Gainako obtained from the ongoing dispute the village Development Committee, the council of elders and the community are all in disagreement with issuing license to an outside business person whose mining undermines and endangers the environment. According to the council of elders Julakaye informed them that he was issued a license by the Gambian government to mine at Faraba. It is reported that the villagers of Faraba were doing their own local mining for local construction and not commercial. They would charge the residents in the community a small fee which fund goes towards the village development committee.
The dispute heated up several weeks ago which led to villagers protesting at the sand mining. The authorities sent the Paramilitary officers to be stationed at Faraba to calm the situation. The National Assembly members responsible for overseeing the environment visited the Village and ask for calm and for the situation to be resolved peacefully. However, Julakaye insisted that since he is granted license to mine in the area he will continue to conduct his business unless his license is rebuked.
There has been serious allegations that the Gambian authorities including the Inspector General of Police has taken a rather slow and lackluster approach to resolving the problem. IGP kinteh is alleged to have family ties to the businessman Julakaye which may have led to him sending the PIU to be stationed there to project the business man according to a native of the village Gainako spoke with. The situation remains very tense and villagers are reportedly angry.
The violent incident has sparked wide spread condemnations of the authorities on the handling of the incident. Questions are raised around the reason the PIU were sent to the area with ammunition and who ordered them to open fire on unarmed civilian protesters. As we go to press there has not been any statement from either the inspection General of police nor the office of the President. The situation remains very alarming and citizens are dismayed that in the “New Gambia” such an incident would be allowed to take place. Many are pointing fingers to the President and his administration for their failure to strictly reform the security sector including getting rid of rogue elements who were the source of violence torture of civilians during the Jammeh regime. Gainako will continue to monitor the situation and will update our readers as more information comes in…