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Presence of 18 Armed Men Create Psychosis in the Dandé Mayo

Since Korité day, the populations of the department of Kanel sleep with one eye open. Because a group of 18 « heavily armed » men, seen in the area on the day of the Korité, would have dispersed between Ngano, Bow and Soringho, hamlets located along the bank of the Senegal River, towards the Mauritanian border. Since Saturday, they have not been spotted, but the hunt has been launched in the area to find them.

Fear hangs over people. Saturday, Aid El Fitr day, while all spirits were turned to the feast, unidentified men, hooded and dressed in traditional Tuareg clothing, heavily armed, positioned themselves at the entrance to the localities of Ngano and Bow, located in the communes of Ndéndory and Ouro Sidi, in the department of Kanel. It is the southern slope of the Dandé mayo bathed by the Senegal River. Where do they come from? How long have they been in the area? Did they cross the Senegal River or did they melt into the background taking advantage of the porous borders? In Fouta, we only wonder…

In any case, the presence of these armed men, considered dangerous, was discovered when one of them came to ask for water from a guard at the base of the Ngano-Bow rice perimeter work site. Reached by phone, Hamadou Sarr, who was on duty that day, said: “On Saturday, around 2 p.m., I saw a man and he came out of the woods to come towards me. I immediately got up to intercept him at the entrance to the base. With a defective pulaar, he asked me for water, and if the customs officers are not frequent on this axis. After giving him some water, I told him that everyone passes on this axis. The man offered to take him home so that he could offer me dates to thank me.” After this discussion, Hamadou Sarr accepted the invitation of the fellow.

A few meters from the base, he discovers the presence of a group of 18 men hidden in the middle of a small row of shrubs. « I saw them all squatting, but when I arrived, they all got up, I couldn’t see anything of them because they had big boubous and were hooded. » Stunned by this discovery, Hamadou Sarr continues: “That day, the wind was blowing very hard and lifted the coat of one of them and I could notice that the man was carrying an automatic weapon. Fear took hold of me and I asked the guy to give the dates so I could join my post. I imagine that the others also carried the same weapons. Upon return to his post, the guard, caught between fear and stupefaction, tried to reach the village chief of Bow to inform him of the presence of these « dubious men » in the area. But, his phone battery was dead. Panicked, he wanted to go to the village to warn the people, but he thought of the risks of abandoning his post. Despite the fear, he was still lucid. He rode on a motorbike to observe the movement of these “super-armed men”. “I noticed from the base that they split into three groups and dispersed: one heading towards Ngano, another towards Soringho and the third towards Fondé Boudel.”

The guard was able to alert the village chief of Bow around 5 p.m., after work. He came into contact with his colleagues in the hamlets located along the area, access to which was eased by the erection of the Wendou Bosséabé and Ganguel Soulèye bridges, inaugurated during the Head of State’s economic tour in June 2021. They informed the administrative and military authorities of the Matam region. The gendarmerie and the administrative authorities immediately went to the scene to question the guard and issue alerts and notices. Reached by telephone, Kalidou Dia, village chief of Ngano, explains: “Even if these individuals are not seen in my village and the surrounding area, the populations have been alerted. I am in constant contact with the village chief of Bow and the others to stop these individuals who haunt our sleep.

In the department of Kanel, as everywhere in Fouta where the Korité and Tabaski feasts last for three days, this year Aid El Fitr was short-lived in the north-eastern area of the country. The populations of the department of Kanel are in great concern and search notices are multiplying in the area to find the traces of these individuals.

By Demba NIANG & Bocar SAKHO

  • Translation by Serigne S. DIAGNE & Ndey T. SOSSEH

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