Who is apprehending suspected armed combatants from Casamance in Foni

By Own Correspondent – As the fighting between Casamance armed groups at the Gambian border dies down and some of the defeated combatants seek sanctuary within the immediate border villages in The Gambia, reports are reaching Foroyaa that over a dozen of them were apprehended in Bulock and a few at Bajana and Sutusinjang.

The information gathered from Bulock village points out to the fact that on Saturday three well known suspected armed combatants were apprehended from the village and one of them goes by the nick name of Zariko. The apprehensions were reported to have been made in Bulock in broad daylight while the public looked on. On Monday 4 October, Foroyaa was also informed that a suspected armed combatant by the nick named “Duniya.”

While on the ground, Foroyaa also learned from eye witnesses that the alleged rebels and a pile of arms were escorted together towards the direction of Banjul on board three pickup vehicles. The eye witnesses also stated that before the suspected rebels and the arms were taken away, their particulars were recorded and were also recorded in a video tape.

While still on the ground, this reporter saw one of the suspected apprehended armed combatant Alias “Zariko” being escorted by GAF men back and forth, between Bulock and Sutusinjang villages. He was escorted to several places in Bulock and was seen being seriously engaged by soldiers in red beret while the public looked on. On more than three occasions he was seen being escorted from Bulock to Sutusinjang and several times into the bushes behind Bulock. He was later seen taken towards the Bulock military post.
Foroyaa also learned from the villagers that night movement within these villages have been restricted as the patrolling soldiers question and ask for identification cards.

Eye witnesses told Foroyaa that on Sunday afternoon, a village youth was seriously man handled by some soldiers after he was suspected of being an armed combatant. It was said that the young man was later rescued by villagers who confirmed to the soldiers that he is a native of Bulock.

Foroyaa also learned of an emergency meeting called by the district Chief Alagie Junkung Camara at Bulock on Tuesday 5 October, where he summoned the village heads (Alkalos) and compound owners and warned them not to habour any armed combatants from the Casamance within their homes. Chief Camara was reported to have warned the village heads and the entire villagers to cooperate with the security personnel and to feed them with vital information about any suspected rebel movement or activities. He was said to have warned the villagers that fighting against the rebel menace in their villages is not about tribe, but the interest of the entire country. He was reported to have stated that when one part of the county is engulfed with rebel activities, the entire country would be affected.

When contacted, Chief Camara confirmed his meeting with three village heads, namely Sutusinjang, Bajana and Bulock. He told Foroyaa that his meeting with the three village heads was witnessed by the area GAF commander who accompanied him to all the three villages. He said that he gave a strict warning to all the Alkalos and the entire villagers to cooperate with the security forces to halt the infiltration of the rebel activities within his district. He added that the office of the Governor of Western Region was in the picture about his meeting with villagers in his district.

When contacted, the spokesperson of The Gambia Armed Forces, Lieutenant Omar Bojang, told FOROYAA that his office is not aware of any suspected rebels being arrested within Bulock and Sutusinjang. PRO Bojang also denied the confiscation of piles of arms and ammunitions from the apprehended suspected rebels by GAF men. He pointed out that they are on constant contact with the soldiers on the ground on hourly basis but has no idea of the arrest of seventeen men with arms and ammunitions seized from them. He added that his office is yet to receive such information from GAF men on the ground.