By Mustapha Jarju
Residents of The Gambia border villages of Ballen, Funtang and Gikess have fled their homes to other villages within Foni and Kombo as Senegalese soldiers clashed with MFDC rebels on Monday, 24th January, 2022, a clash that left two soldiers died.
The internally displaced people included women, children and the old people amid fear of a continue fighting between the two disputing groups.
Monday’s gunfire exchanged erupted after Senegalese ECOMIG contingent stationed in Foni chased a truck loaded with timbers into the territory of the rebels in the southern region of Senegal, Casamance – who have been fighting for their independence for decades.
Sulayman Sanyang, one of the internally displaced Gambians, told The Voice in an interview that: “we are facing a lot of difficulties as we left all our wealth in Ballen village and sent our women and children to the Kombos. Some are in Brikama and others continued to Serekunda while only we the elders remain here in Kampant taking refuge here till we feel it is safe to return to the villages.”
According to him, the soldiers opened fire on the truck when they left the last compound of Ballen,“even the Alkalo tried to stop the soldiers onboard a pick-up from entering Casamance when the truck cross the border. But they refused and went without answering him, and that caused all this trouble.”
“Since Monday, we are seeing dangerous weapons being transported into the area that is causing more fear in us, and nobody knows when the next attack will be launched, it can happen at any time even here in Kampant, yesterday (Monday) the Senegalese military mounted three check-points in the village,” he disclosed.
“We have had no assistance from the government since the incident happened and we fled from our villages. The Gambia Red-Cross Society yesterday morning provided food to the families that left their villages due to the fight between the Rebel and the Senegalese Soldiers in The Gambia,” he said.