Nigeria sends troops, jets to Senegal for Gambia force

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Senegal also moves troops near Gambia as Jammeh remains defiant

LAGOS

Nigeria has sent 200 soldiers and air assets including fighter jets to Senegal as part of a regional force to enforce the result of Gambia’s contested election, the country’s air force said Wednesday.

The Nigerian Air Force said it had “today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, light utility helicopter as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into Gambia”.

The Economic Community Of West African States has repeatedly called on leader Yahya Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1 election and step down after 22 years in power.

Jammeh on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as President-elect Adama Barrow, who is currently in Senegal, maintained his inauguration will go ahead as planned on Thursday on Gambian soil.

Nigeria said the forces were part of an ECOWAS military standby intervention force “tasked by ECOWAS heads of state to enforce the December 1, 2016 election mandate in The Gambia”.

“The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia,” it added in a statement.

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The Nigerian Air Force on Wednesday deployed troops and fighter jets to Gambia, as part of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) mandate to enforce the December 1, 2016 election result in Gambia.

The Air Force contingent for the Gambia operation were air lifted from the 117 Air Combat Training Group Kainji, in Niger state, to be on standby in Dakar, Senegal.

The troops airlifted in an Hercules C-130 transport plane included; Combat Support Group, Technicians, Special Forces, and Medical personnel.

Other platforms also deployed to the Gambia are: fighter jets, helicopters gunships, and a Hercules C-130 among others.

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Gambian president Yahya Jammeh gestures before casting his marble in a polling station in a presidential poll, in Banjul on December 01, 2016. AFP PHOTO | MARCO LONGARI 

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