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As panic grips Kamakwie…

AMR Gold accused of terrorising residents

April 9, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Some land owners and residents of Kathantha village in the Sella Limba Chiefdom, Bombali District, yesterday complained of “terror threats” allegedly being perpetrated against them by some officials of AMR Gold, a mining company operating in that part of the country.

The protesters, who converged at the resident of one Simah Dumbuya in Freetown, made the claim in a two-page protest letter to the Minister of Mines and copied the President, Vice President, Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Members of Parliament of Constituencies 35 and 36, Mines Engineer in Makeni and the District Council Chairman.

They complained that management of AMR Gold is in a terror campaign against the people of Kathantha village even as they do exploration of Gold, Coltan and other precious minerals, noting that in March this year, officials of the company – Salim Sillah (chief geologist), Mohamed Sultan Daffae (admin/finance manager), Foday Fofana (head of exploration), and others – approached them with a proposal for the grading of their road.

This, they said, was a welcome idea and was received with open arms, alleging that the said officials later brought a D-6 Caterpillar machine and started grading the road. “On reaching Kathantha village, things suddenly changed and the arrangement to grade the road on to the Koinadugu boundary was abandoned,” they claimed.

The workers therefore decided to grade the road that leads to the exploration site, which according to them was practically not what they had agreed on.

“In our attempt resisting them, even as we reminded them of their undertaking – grading the main road on to the border line with Koinadugu – they unceremoniously deserted us, then suddenly hired the services of thugs with knives and cutlasses, including four armed OSD personnel, then commanded them to shoot and kill anyone standing in the way of the caterpillar workers as they advance to the site under exploration,” Saidu Conteh, a land owner said.

He continued: “They could neither pay any attention to our protest nor respect orders of the Kamakwie Paramount Chief, who beforehand had instructed one Ishmael Dumbuya, the mining chairman of Kathantha village, to escort some white nationals to the site of exploration for a visit. This sparked a rage of discord, but because the hired thugs and officers were armed to the teeth, we could not stand them, but allowed them do what they like.

“On the 28th of March, 2015 a large group of men carrying machetes and knives stormed the village (Kathantha), accompanying the D6 caterpillar machine to the AMR Gold mining site and were saying, ‘any attempt by any land owners to stop us will in no doubt be resisted violently’.”

When contacted for his response, an AMR Gold official who wished not to be named said “we will release a comprehensive reaction to the allegations very soon”.