(JollofNews) – Residents of Foni, West Coast Region, protesting against the heavy military presence in the area have clashed with officers of the Senegal led military intervention force in the Gambia.

Thousands of youths and elders from almost all villages in Foni gathered in former President Yahya Jammeh’s home village of Kanilai, some 119km from Banjul, and displayed banners calling for the immediate withdrawal of ECOMIG soldiers in the area.

The demonstrators were met by ECOMIG soldiers who fired shots injuring two people. The demonstrators later set up road blocks and set fire to tyres near Kanilai Fire Station.

“This was a peaceful demonstration by all the natives of Foni and we want to make it clear to the government that we want the immediate withdrawal of heavily armed Senegalese soldiers in our villages,” one demonstrator told JollofNews.

“We are all ready to die to put an end to this militarisation of Foni. The entire Foni is crawling with heavily armed soldiers who are intimidating residents.  We didn’t protest against the deployment of soldiers here during the previous regime because President Jammeh used to visit the area regularly. But now that he is no longer president and is not even in the country, we want to see an end to the militarisation of Foni.

“Why is Foni being singled out? Are we the only part of the Gambia that supported President Jammeh or benefitted from his regime? Foni is and will always be part of the Gambia. Why are we being treated differently? If the government is not singling Foni out then how come we don’t have heavy ECOMIG presence in Banjul, Basse, Serrekunda, Farafenni, Soma and other parts of the country?”

Commenting on the incident, the public relations officer of the Gambian Armed Forces, Lieutenant -Colonel Omar Bojang said the army was sending a team to the village to determine what had transpired.

In an interview with the Dakar based Agence de Presse Africaine (APA), Bojang confirmed that natives of Kanilai have demanded the immediate withdrawal of ECOMIG military presence in the village, leading to a standoff with the troops.

He claimed the situation is under control, but acknowledged that the demonstrators left a trail of destruction in their wake.