Gambian soldiers deployed along The Gambia/Senegalese border, around the Southern province of Casamance to help arrest illegal timber log smuggling were nearly consumed by fire that emanated from their own guard post, FREEDOM NEWSPAPER CAN REVEAL. At least one soldier was injured, and two rifles burnt to the ground.
The circumstances surrounding the inferno is unknown. The soldiers are usually dressed on civilian outfit while in the bushes trying to catch timber smugglers.
Timber smuggling is a lucrative business in The Gambia. Many would cross the border to Casamance to fetch for timber and in turn sell it to Chinese in The Gambia. There is growing presence of companies associated with Chinese firms in The Gambia. The logs are later exported to Mainland China.
Senegal and The Gambia had reached a security agreement to combat illegal trafficking of logs across the neighboring countries.
A source who reached us said: “There is no accommodation or feeding for the soldiers; they are virtually on their own and at the mercy of the Alkalos.”
“They hardly wear uniforms; they left their rifles in the improvised hut and until today, they couldn’t establish the cause of the inferno. One of the soldiers was in the hut; that is why he sustained injuries.
Timber traffickers often tried to beat security checkpoints along the border. Allegations of bribery are abound in some occasions.
There is no indication to suggest that The Gambian soldiers would be withdrawn from the border anytime soon.
The Army Spokesman could not be reached for immediate comment.