There is a heavy fighting taking place in The West African nation of The Gambia at this hour, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Disgruntled Kartong, Kombo South youths are having a go with the country’s police intervention unit (PIU), following a late night protest to stop truckers from illegal sand mining in the Coastal village. Over twenty youths have been arrested, while the fighting continues to go unabated. Among the arrested youths include the village’s youth leaders: Habib Touray, Modou Kutu Manneh and one Amadou Jarju. The detainees are currently being held at the Gunjur police station.
Serious mining activities started to take place in the village in 2008, when the corrupt and greedy Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, secretly reached a sand mining deal with Carnegie minerals, an Australian mining company, which was later expelled from the country by the dictator’s government. Jammeh has since taken over the sand mining industry. He has tasked his brother Ansumana Jammeh to oversee the sector for him. Private truckers mining at the site usually pay Jammeh a huge amount of money.
Tensions started brewing last night at 11:00 am Gambian time, when the villagers of Kartong, raised the alarm bell drum by summoning all villagers to show up at the sand mining site. The villagers then regrouped and confronted the truckers, who started arriving to prepare a staging ground for the following morning sand mining. Both men, women, youths and the elderly showed up in their larger numbers. An altercation later ensued between the villagers and the sand miners. The altercation lasted until 3:00 am.
Tensions escalated this morning, when angry youths started throwing stones at the truckers. Vehicle windshields got smashed. The private home of the village’s Councillor Lamin Jamba Jammeh was also vandalized by the protesting youths. The protesting youths could be heard chanting: “ No sand mining in Kartong.”
As we file this report, there are three trucks of armed paramilitary police in Kartong trying to doze the mounting tensions. The Governor of West Coast Region Madam Hydara is also on the ground. The Kombo South MP Abdou Kolley, and the District Chief Sheriffo Janneh (IJ Janneh) are all on the ground pleading with the protesting youths to calm down.
The illegal sand mining in Kartong is endangering the lives of the villagers. Just this past Muslim feast Tobaski, an eleven year old boy one Modou Lamin Jatta fell down in one of the ditches and died. Mr. Jatta came from Kombo Berending. He was on holidays in Kartong after sitting for his grade six exams, when he met his tragic death.
The ditch (hole) which claimed little Modou Jatta’s life was dug by the Carnegie, villagers said. There are similar holes evident all over the village. Crocodiles often invade the village, sources said.
Kartong is also a home for the Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh often frequent the village during weekends. He spent one of the Sunday’s before his countrywide tour in Kartong. He came there at night to worship to his idols. A convoy of three vehicles escorted him to the sea site. He often used tent, when he is around the locality.
Mr. Jammeh has also contributed to the dispute taking place in Kartong. He gave D2 million dalasi to the Kabilo of Jabangkundaring to distribute the money among the Kabilo. The Alkalo of the village belongs to the same Kabilo. This followed a piece of land that was illegally given to dictator Jammeh by the family clan of Jabangkundaring. There are two Jabang family clans in Kartong. The Jabangba family clan are the original settlers of the villagers. But Jammeh is mixing the villagers by using money and power to divide them.
In another development, Governor Hydara has just communicated a message to the protesting youths that she received directives from Kanilai, Jammeh’s home village that the sand mining should continue without any interruption coming from the villagers. The youths then went wild upon hearing Ms. Hydara’s message. The fighting has intensified. Stones are being thrown all over the place.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai