Gunmen attack pharmacy in Essau

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Seven people armed with gun have robbed Hajo Jarra Pharmacy in Essau village early hours of Friday morning, between the hours of 02:00 to 03:30, residents said.

The pharmacy is located opposite Essau health centre along Barra-Amdalai Highway.  It is just about 200 metres from the military base in Essau and approximately 150 metres from the Essau police checkpoint. 

The pharmacy owner, Jimmy Coker, said though no one died, the watchman was “seriously beaten” and currently admitted at Essau health centre.

Also, the armed robbers broke the safe in the pharmacy and went away with cash amount of at least D10,000, he said.

Momodou Jallow, the watchman, said the armed robbers came to the pharmacy on foot and it was seven of them.

“One of them scaled over the fence, entered the compound and called out my name, saying ‘Momodou Jallow be prepared for us because today we will kill you’.  He (the robber) started to kick me at my ribs but I also managed to stab him with my knife at his ribs and that was when the others rushed to me and started to hit me.

“I managed to escape and ran to the army camp when the armies arrived and they started to exchange gunshots.”

Jallow sustained series of injuries on his head and other parts of his body.

Mr Coker, the pharmacy owner,  said: “I was not around when the armed robbers came; I was at Serekunda health centre but my daughter, Anna Coker, who was in the compound in Essau called me, saying ‘dad please help me alarm the police; I can’t talk that much, there are armed robbers in the compound right now.’”

“I phoned Barra police station but could not get through the line.  I then called one of my friends who is an immigration officer at Denton Bridge to help contact Barra station.

“But he called back to say Barra police said they did not have fuel to go to the scene. Later, my daughter managed to call one of her ECOMIG (Ecowas soldiers in Gambia) friends who, together with some Gambian soldiers, came to rescue them but the moment they arrived, they started to exchange gunshots with the armed robbers.”

‘Swift police response’

However, the public relations officer of the police said as soon as Barra police station received information about the armed robbery, the men prepared and left for the scene.

“When Barra station got the information, some officers prepared and left for the scene but when the robbers saw them coming, they fired at them,” PRO Inspector Foday Conta said.  “Because the police had no gun, they had to take cover, meaning they hide so that the bullet would not hit them.  They then called the military.”

However, he confirmed that by the time the police arrived, the armed robbers were apparently done – they had broken the safe and taken the money already.

He continued:  “But the coming of the police delayed the departure of the armed robbers, they could not go out because maybe they were not sure whether the police were armed or not.  When the police took cover, they called the army and when the soldiers came, there was exchange of fire between them and the armed robbers. 

“But unfortunately, because of the darkness of the night, the robbers left the scene and the army could not trace them.” 

Conta said at the scene, the police recovered unspecified number of empty bullet case of single barrel gun (local gun) which was used by the armed robbers and empty bullet case of AK47 that was used by the men of the armed forces.

One of the robbers, he said, was injured as evidenced by the bloodstain after the attackers left. 

“The police tried to follow the bloodstain but it could not lead them to anywhere and so far, no suspect has been arrested,” the police PRO said.

Author: Lamin Jahateh & Ousman A Marong