Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gunjur/Berending Communal Clashes lead to one death

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By Hatab Nyang / Louise Jobe

Gunjur, The Gambia – Clashes over the weekend between Gunjur and Berending in Kombo South, West Coast Region, involving the use of shot guns and machetes resulted to the death of a man in late forties.

The victim one Buba Jammeh, who is a native of Gunjur village, is alleged to have met his untimely death on Saturday 16th March 2019, in a fierce confrontation over land between Jammeh Kunda kabilo (clan) of Gunjur and some villagers of Berending.

According to eye witnesses’ accounts at the scene, one villager from Berending village opened fire with a shot gun at the victim’s stomach which led to his sudden death. Another victim by the name Foday Jammeh who is also a native of Gunjur, was also alleged to have been shot twice by the same person, but he was able to survive, before being hit with a stick and sustaining severe injuries. Both persons were rushed to Gunjur Health facility and later to Brikama Regional Hospital.

Information has it that nine people from Berending have been arrested after the incident on Saturday and detained at various Police Stations, with the killer still at large.

Soon after this an angry mob pelted stones at the Gunjur Police Station, destroying the doors and windows of the building housing the station. They also destroyed the door of the pick-up vehicle of the PIU Commander, on the arrival of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at Gunjur Police Station.

The information further indicate that the angry mob surrounded the IGP’s vehicle despite the heavy presence of para military officers and his car was also pelted with stones and sand forcing the driver to whisk him away, in order to escape from the angry mob.

Calm was later restored that day but looming tension and the death of a member of the community led to another clash on Sunday, 17th March 2019, forcing security forces to be reinforced.

On Sunday some people from the communities of Gunjur and Berending in Kombo South were involved in another serious clash and two native of Gunjur were shot on their legs sustaining wounds and they were hospitalized.

The police intervention unit (PIU) who were stationed at the border fired tear gas to disperse the protestors but there was a stalemate, which went on for hours while PIU officers engaged in negotiations to no avail. Then there was soon reinforcement of more and more security personnel. But even with that huge presence of the security forces the people of Berending continued to shoot at the people of Gunjur multiple times and two people from Gunjur namely Buba Jatta and Musa Manjang were both injured and rushed to the health centre.

During the confrontation many people were wounded including PIU officers.

The PIU were backed by the Gambian soldiers and the Ecomig forces. Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd and order has been restored. There is now uneasy calm in Gunjur.

Bunama Cham said he was among those who demarcated the border between Gunjur and the said land in Berending; but that few hours afterwards, some citizens of Berending approached them with cutlasses and sticks in readiness to fight them. He said further that in a revenge attack, angry youth from Gunjur destroyed the vegetable gardens and different fruit trees belonging to the villagers of Berending. He indicated that the fire had the potential of going towards Berending.

Senior officers present at the Police Station included the Majority Leader and NAM for Kombo South, Kebba K. Barrow, the Chief, the Alkalo of Gunjur and sympathisers of the bereaved family members of the late Buba Jammeh.

Youths gathering just outside the Gunjur Police Station

Meanwhile, in a press release issued by the Office of the President, the President is reported to have described the developments in Gunjur/Berending as very disturbing. He has expressed concern and closely monitoring the situation.

“President Barrow is advising both sides to exercise maximum restraint and calm.  He equally calls on the two communities to allow local authorities and the deployed law enforcement agencies to do their jobs.

“The president urges people not to take the law into their own hands, especially on matters of land ownership. The government has instituted a Land Commission, where all matters relating to land issues should be addressed,” the release concludes.

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