Gambian ex-dictator's country palace burns in wildfire

Yahya Jammeh (AFP)
Yahya Jammeh (AFP)

Gambian ex-autocrat Yahya Jammeh's palatial country residence, where he allegedly administered a self-invented Aids cure, has been partially "gutted by bushfire", the West African state's army said on Thursday.

Located in Jammeh's home village of Kanilai in western Gambia, his sprawling former private residence was engulfed by a wildfire on Wednesday, according to army spokesperson Lamin Sanyang.

Jammeh - whose regime has been accused of murder, torture and rape - fled The Gambia in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative newcomer Adama Barrow.

Some of the abuses are believed to have occurred in Kanilai.

Three men who disappeared after plotting a coup in 2014 were exhumed in the village in 2017, for example.

Aids patients have also alleged that Jammeh detained them in the compound in order to force them to undergo a herbal treatment of his own design.

Sanyang said the wildfire started on Tuesday in the neighbouring village of Alla Kunda, where villagers unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the blaze, before spreading to Kanilai the following day.

"The house where the former president used to conduct his treatment programme was gutted by bushfire," Sanyang said, referring to Jammeh's alleged Aids cure.

A "mini stadium" in the complex also burned down, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the incident.

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