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02.01.2008 General News

Curfew At Bawku , Following Communal Violence And killings

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on Bawku, Zabugu and Garu in the Upper East Region following communal violence and killings in the towns.

That followed a meeting between the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) and some traditional leaders in the area after a reported case of alleged armed robbery erupted into a bloody ethnic conflict between Mamprusis and Kusasis, the two dominant groups in the towns.

Police sources in Accra told the Daily Graphic that three people had been confirmed dead in the riots, but unconfirmed reports in Bawku put the number at nine.

The REGSEC officials and the traditional leaders are also holding a meeting with the regional minister and the police and military commanders to restore peace and security in the towns.

Confirming the mayhem and anarchy that also led to the burning of houses, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Patrick Acheampong, said his men and some military men in the three northern regions had been working around the clock to bring the situation under control.

The IGP said reinforcement from the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions was also on the way to Bawku to beef up the security in the town and further stabilise the situation.

He said seven persons were on admission, while 11 had so far been arrested to assist the police in their investigations.

He explained that the incident began as an armed robbery attack perpetrated by two Fulanis wielding AK47 assault rifles.

Mr Acheampong said while the Samanpid Festival was being celebrated, the two robbers attacked inmates of two households at Yarmiriga, which is at the outskirts of Bawku.

He said the two robbers, who were believed to be domiciled nearby, shot and killed two innocent civilians who recognised them.

He said the incident was reported to the police, who rushed to the scene, but by then the two robbers had escaped on a motorbike, amidst the firing of guns.

The IGP said there was misinformation in town that an ethnic conflict had erupted between the Mamprusis and the Kusasis and that led to tension in the Bawku municipality and its environs.

He said a number of houses belonging to both groups had been burnt and there was mass violence, anarchy and indiscriminate firing in the town but the police and the military moved in quickly and had been working around the clock to bring the situation under control and return it to normalcy.

Mr Acheampong said the three Regional Police Commanders from the Upper West, Upper East and the Northern regions and their military counterparts met with the Bawku Naaba, Abugrago Asigiri Azoka II, his elders and opinion leaders at the Naaba's palace and appealed to them to talk to their subjects to bring peace to Bawku.

He said while a police reinforcement was on its way to beef up security, it was attacked by some youth who had mounted illegal roadblocks on the way and smashed the windscreen of the Tata bus that was conveying the policemen.

Mr Acheampong said there had been indiscriminate shooting at Posum, Patalemi, Sabongeri and Zabzugu and appealed to those concerned to return all weapons in their possession to the police.

Three of the deaths occurred last Monday, while the rest occurred yesterday when the shooting intensified.
At the time of filing this report, there were heavy sounds of gunshots in Bawku, which had compelled the REGSEC to bring in reinforcement of 35 military men with the aid of a military helicopter.

The violence erupted when the Kusasis, the most dominant ethnic group in Bawku, had finished celebrating their Samanpid Festival, which the Mamprusis were believed to be against.

The Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Ofosu Mensah Gyeabuor, had earlier confirmed to the Daily Graphic that 14 houses had been burnt, while a house and a corn mill were reported burnt at Garu in the Garu District.

He indicated that as the violence escalated, his office ensured that more security men, both military and the police, were brought in as reinforcement.

He appealed to politicians from both sides of the conflict to be mindful of their utterances because any unguarded utterances could be detrimental to the peace in the area.

Earlier, the Regional Minister, Mr Alhassan Samari, had led a team of military cum police officials to Bawku to assess the situation.

He was accompanied by the Northern Regional Police Commander, Mr Ephraim Brakatu, the Regional Security Co-ordinator, Mr Ahmed A. Mumuni, the Sub-Officer of the Northern Regional Command of the Ghana Air Force, Lt Coleman Arvine Aryeetey, among other officials.

Meanwhile, reports gathered by the Daily Graphic revealed that the death of the three people on Monday, as reported by the paper, was as a result of an alleged attack by some angry Mamprusi youth and that the deaths were not linked to armed robbery.

Story by Mary Mensah & Samuel Abaane

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