SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS said to have been instituted in the Kumasi Metropolis ahead of the CAN 2008 tournament have been seriously threatened, as armed robbers yesterday engaged a policeman in a gun battle at a cold store at Brisco, Asafo, in the garden city.
The policeman was severely injured while one of the five robbers who raided the Adom Mmoroso Cold Store Ltd was shot in the neck, and died instantly.
But for the well-timed display of bravado and vigilance by Constable Ebenezer Obeng Darko of the Asokwa Police Station who was said to have been detailed for duty at the cold store, the gangsters would have escaped with a GH¢ 10,000 (¢100 million) booty.
Constable Obeng was rushed to the Agogo Government Hospital in Kumasi for medical attention, and the body of the robber who could not be readily identified, had been deposited at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) morgue.
Interestingly, the incident occurred barely a week after security experts in the country, in the company of a French security capo, Andre Ramon, led by the Director-General in-charge of Police Operations, DCOP Patrick Eden Timbilla, held a seminar to review the security situation in the city.
Tuesday's attempted robbery which occurred at about 10.30am forced many businesses in the area to close down as there was information that four of the robbers who managed to escape with offensive weapons in their possession were hiding in the bush and could kill anybody in sight.
When DAILY GUIDE got to the scene, the lifeless body of the robber was lying in a supine position in a pool of blood with hundreds of people rushing from various parts of the area to catch a glimpse of him.
The paper gathered that more than 20 armed police men and officers from the Buffalo Unit of the Ghana Police Service and various police stations in the area, some of them dressed in mufti, were dispatched to contain the situation.
Eyewitnesses told DAILY GUIDE that the robbers, made up of one female and four males, wearing white T-shirts and masks, stormed the premises of the cold store in a Tico taxi with registration number GE 3839 Y.
Three of the robbers, armed with machetes and guns, raided the cold store, firing shots indiscriminately, obviously to ward off any security intervention.
The robbers, believed to be in their 20s, then attacked the cashier and dispossessed her of ¢100 million, being sales for the period.
According to eyewitness accounts, just as the gangsters were making attempts to flee with their booty, Constable Obeng Darko, who was standing on top of the storey building where he had taken cover, engaged them in a shoot-out.
In the process, the policeman was shot in the hand, and one of the robbers, believed to be the leader of the gang, died on the spot whilst the rest of them escaped, leaving the money behind.
Sensing danger, two of the suspected robbers in the taxi including their female counterpart, sped off to avoid being arrested or killed.
When the owner of the cold store, Mrs. Justina Baidoo was contacted, she narrated that when the robbers struck amidst firing of guns, she and two of her employees took cover in the cold store.
She said by the time she came out, one of the robbers had been gunned down and was lying in a pool of blood.
Inspector Mohammed Yusif Tanko of the Public Affairs Unit of the Ashanti Regional Police Command said one locally-made pistol and five live cartridges were found on the deceased.
The Police Inspectorate stated in a release issued to the media that although the robbers had fled before the Police reinforcement got to the scene, they subjected the area to an extensive search with the hope of apprehending the suspects but to no avail.
Meanwhile, contrary to eyewitness accounts that the car used in the attempted robbery was a Tico, Inspector Tanko said the Police had impounded an abandoned Nissan Primera Taxi with registration number GE 3082 Y at Amakom suspected to be the one used for the robbery.
According to him, when a search was conducted on the car, one locally manufactured pistol, a live cartridge, a knife, an ID card and a driver's licence bearing the name Sherif Mohammed were found.
He said investigations were ongoing to bring the escapee robbers to book.
From James Quansah & Fred J.A Ibrahim Jnr., Kumasi