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West African Regional Bloc Extends Military Mission in Gambia


FILE - Senegalese soldiers membrers of ECOWAS forces (Economic Community of West African States) patrol in Barra, Jan. 22, 2017.

West African troops have extended their military mission in Gambia by one year after entering the country in January to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, regional bloc ECOWAS said on Monday.

About 500 ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia of the original 7,000 that crossed over from neighboring Senegal to compel Jammeh to go into exile and leave the presidency to Adama Barrow, who defeated him in a December election.

Soldiers from the mission, known as ECOMIG, came under attack last Friday by locals in Jammeh's native village of Kanilai, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said in a televised statement, underscoring unresolved tensions from Jammeh's 22-year rule.

One of the demonstrators demanding the departure of ECOMIG and state troops was killed in the clashes, and security forces made 22 arrests, Fatty said.

The tiny country of 2 million people is trying to rebuild its economy and obtain justice for victims of Jammeh's government, which is accused of torturing and killing perceived opponents.

Separately, ECOWAS's 15 member states gave preliminary approval to Morocco's bid to join the bloc "because of [its] strong and multi-dimensional links of cooperation with West Africa", ECOWAS said in a statement.

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