A 52-year-old man from Sintet village has explained how fellow villagers were gathered together and forced to inhale smoke from burnt leaves by so-called witch hunters.

Ali Jallow was testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) as it begins hearing testimonies in Foni, the hometown of former president Yahya Jammeh.

In 2009, former president Jammeh shocked the world by launching a so-called witch-hunt after the unexplained death of his aunt and two of his bodyguards.

He hired a group of “witch doctors” believed to be from Guinea (Conakry) and supported by armed soldiers and police. They targeted poor farming communities and public offices where opponents of the President where accused of witchcraft and taken away for “cleansing”.

The alleged witches were forced to drink specially made concoctions by the so-called witch doctors resulting in deaths and other health problems.

Ali Jallow told TRRC that at the hospital ward where they were detained they were gathered by the so-called witch doctors.

“They put some leaves on the stove and set them alight. I saw how the smoke was disturbing people and some people were using their shirts to clear the smoke away but I managed to escape.”

He added: “They captured very huge number of the villagers almost half of the village number because they were storming homes and houses and capturing people randomly.

“I saw a man who came to the home of the Imam and broke his house door and said where are the children of the witches?

“And another man came to me and called me old man and passed and got into my brother’s house and went in and met his wife having a bath.”

Mr. Jallow said while the so-called witch doctors were storming homes and houses that personnel of the police intervention unit armed with AK47 encircled the village.

He said the witch doctors were dressed like magicians and “magicians are known to be from Guinea Conakry” adding “they took the captured ones to Kanilai and my father and my elder brother’s wife and another boy in my family were taken away by them”.

The TRRC hearing continues.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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