Gambian authorities have revealed the true scale of damages caused in today’s standoff with angry youths.
Thousands of youths today set up barricades and set tyres on fire in protest at the death of Ousman Darboe, a local shopkeeper.
Darboe was picked up and detained by detectives investigation a burglary in Kerr Sering village.
Police said Darboe was charged with handling stolen goods after a flat screen TV from the burglary was found in his shop.
Police added that some suspects lifted for the burglary had admitted the offence and selling the TV to Darboe.
They said Darboe, an asthma patient, was charged and released within the constitutionally mandated 72 hours.
However, Darboe’s relatives said he was detained for days and tortured resulting in his death shortly after his release.
As news of his death reaches town, thousands of youths took to the streets, set fire and looted the house of the police anti crime unit’s boss.
They also stormed Serrekunda Police Station where they vandalised several police vehicles.
Bakoteh Police Station was also attacked and badly damaged by the youths.
Police said several officers have been injured during the incident.
“Following several acts of vandalism, attacks on the Police and destruction of properties by protesters, the Office of the Inspector General of Police [IGP] is renewing its call for calm and restraint,” said police spokesman, Superintendent David Kujabi.
“In view of the above, the Inspector General’s Office is calling on the public to maintain peace and refrain from gathering around police stations, markets, area council premises and security installations.
“Personnel of the security services will conduct vigorous patrols and checks in order to ensure safety and security of the public.”
Meanwhile,the government has also called for calm and vowed to carry out an independent inquiry into Darboe’s death.
According to a media statement issued late this evening, Ebrima G. Sankareh, government spokesman, the death of Darboe is regrettable and the Government has expressed its heartfelt condolences to his family, relatives and friends.
“The government wants to make it abundantly clear that the Gambia is fully committed to the values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights,” Sankareh said.
“Consitent with these norms, the Gambia Government will immediately set up an independent enquiry into the circumstances leading to the late Ousman Darboe’s death and if any person or persons were to be found liable, they will face the full force of the law.”
He appealed for calm and advises citizens especially the youth, to stay home and resist the temptation to be violent.
Sankareh added: “The public is urged to refrain from provoking the security forces and all acts of vandalism as evident in the incineration of Police Commissioner Mboob’s residence earlier today at Ebo Town
“The Interior Ministry wants to remind Gambians, that while it is their democratic right to assemble and demonstrate, it is illegal to indulge in arson, looting and all forms of violence against any citizen.
Equally, the Interior Ministry firmly warns against mob justice and admonishes the youth to avoid taking the law into their own hands no matter how painful the circumstances.
“The public is thus reminded that police presence in key locations within our communities was primarily to protect and preserve the law and police officers should therefore, be seen as legitimate custodians of the peace and not troublemakers.”