By Musa Touray
The security situation in The Gambia is getting traumatic by the day in spite of the laudable efforts of our men and women in uniform. Insecurity, which some say was not a worrisome phenomenon in the past, is taking a scary dimension. That security officials were attacked with one PIU officer severely beaten, the other shot in the hand and one disarmed of his fully loaded rifle by transnational armed delinquents portends a disturbing precarity of our country’s security architecture.
Let’s put aside, in the meantime, the nocuous and far-reaching consequences of fleeing with an unauthorized firearm replete with “30 live rounds of ammunition” and delve into a broader assessment of the whole issue.
Anyone who has read The Alkamba Times’ story about what happened in Fass Njaga Choi in the early hours of Sunday morning will relate what I am trying to put across. The medium broke hair-raising news that an amorphous group of highly armed men “stormed the North Bank settlement of Fass Njaga Choi” and “mercilessly beat up police intervention unit personnel at a checkpoint before seizing his rifle and disappearing into Senegal.” This incident evokes genuine public concerns about the fate of our security. It’s not only a threat to our lives and livelihood but also an impugnation of our sovereignty as a nation.
If it’s established that the armed syndicate consists of Senegalese nationals, as was the case in a similar incident in Farafenni, casual observers would understand it to mean another episode in which our sovereignty as a nation has been undermined. Gambians in Foni, for example, have serially faced the brunt of sporadic geopolitical upheavals occasioned by the longstanding hostility between Senegalese forces and Cassamance secessionist rebels, which often subside in nondiplomatic, nonetheless volatile, Mexican standoffs. This has had egregious impacts on the residents, denying them the placidity of mind that citizens in other parts of the country have enjoyed until recently.
The group’s fleeing the scene with a seized weapon is as worrying as the whole incident. Since it was not reported that the attackers wore uniforms, only God knows what sort of human beings this armed group is composed of. As of now, there is no evidence to infer that it’s a rebellious group. Based on what followed the armed invasion of the village, which include breaking into shops and stealing thousands of dalasi as reported by The Alkamba Times, we will be right to call them armed robbers.
However, this is how most rebel groups around the world started. Fortifying themselves gradually with illegal weapons to launch insurgent offensives on military groups that strike fear in civilians’ hearts. If left unhunted, rebellious movements expand their base and increase their forces through willful recruitment and recruitment at gunpoint of captured, even if unprovoking, civilians.
This calls for immediate and proper reinforcement of our security officers as they strive to ward off aggression and criminality from our shores. This, of course, should be accompanied by incentives.