Africa

Gambia police exhume bodies of coup plotters

Police investigators in Gambia have exhumed the bodies of three men who were killed while taking part in an attempted coup in December 2014.

The exhumations are meant to shed light on the circumstances of their deaths and to allow the families to have a proper burial, police said. The action taken by police was reportedly prompted by intelligence received from members of the death squad of Gambia's former President Yahya Jammeh who ruled for more than 22 years.

U.S. national guard member Njaga Jagne, former Gambian presidential guard commander Col. Lamin Sanneh and Jaja Nyass were allegedly killed during a shootout after an attempt on Dec. 30, 2014 to overthrow former President Jammeh, police spokesman Foday Conta said.

Police exhumed their bodies Friday at a firing range called Tintingba in the village of Kanfenda in Foni Kansala, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the capital, Banjul.

The three were among others who attempted the coup while Jammeh was out of the country. Four U.S. citizens who had fled after the attempt were sentenced last year in a U.S. federal court for their roles.

Human rights groups have long accused Jammeh of running a government that arrested and sometimes killed and tortured opponents. Residents of the tiny West African country voted President Adama Barrow into office in December 2016, ending the long rule of Jammeh, who flew into exile in January under international pressure after a political standoff when he refused to step down.

Barrow has promised to reverse many of Jammeh's repressive actions. The justice minister has said the country will set up a truth and reconciliation commission in the next six months.

Six other men linked to the Dec. 30 coup attempt, and who had been sentenced to death in Gambia in 2015, were granted presidential pardons and have already been reintegrated into the army.