Guinea denies navy clash with Sierra Leone, as 11 face charges in Freetown

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“There was a Chinese boat that was being pursued by the Guinean navy and entered into Sierra Leone’s territory. During the manoeuver, the Guinean navy entered into Sierra Leone’s territory,” Camara told Reuters News Agency.

He said the Guinean personnel had debarked for reasons of formality, assuring that they would return home soon.

“But there was no gunfire or arrests,” he said.

Police and maritime authorities in Freetown say the Sierra Leone Navy exchanged fire at sea with their Guinean counterparts in an attempt to rescue a Chinese boat which had been allegedly taken over by a group of men who are currently in police custody in Freetown.

Head of Police Operations, AIG Al-Shek Kamara told Politico that 11 people were currently being investigated and “will be charged this week because we do not want to hold them beyond the constitutional provision”.

He said the group of Guinean navy officers and their civilian accomplices would be charged with “robbery at sea”.

Police and maritime sources say “the heavily-armed Guineans” illegally entered a Chinese trawler, Shanghai 1, at the Yeliboya axis in Kambia District and held the crew under gunpoint, demanding for thousands of dollars.

A source at the Maritime Administration says the men dismantled the communications equipment on the vessel and forced it to sail closer to their base at a place called Salatoke.

“One of the crew managed to put a call through to the Sierra Leone Navy using a mobile phone who quickly deployed and engaged the attackers, and exchanged gunfire with them”, says the maritime sources.

The Sierra Leone army spokesman, Col Usman Turay was keen to play up bilateral relations between our two countries which “have seen a military liaison office opened in both Freetown and Conakry”.

 

Guinea and Sierra Leone still have an unresolved despite over Yenga which both countries lay claim to. It was part of Kailahun District until the civil war in the 1990s when Guinean troops deployed there with the acquiescence of the Freetown government, to stave off any rebel attacks against the former French colony.