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03.03.2009 Regional News

'Bawku conflict is now economic war' - Avoka

By Times

The Minister of the Interior, Cletus Avoka, has described the violent clashes at Bawku as an "economic war".

"This is turning into an economic war. The youth are idle and there are too many arms floating around,” he said of the reported incidents on Sunday and yesterday in which five people are said to have died.

With the high level of unemployment in the area and the large number of arms in the system, he said the, youth easily resort to violence to settle disagreements.

Speaking to the Times yesterday in the wake of the latest developments at Bawku, he said it was sad that in spite of all the appeals to the people to use dialogue and the law courts to resolve their problems," they are still resorting to violence.

Contrary to reports that the clash was between the Kusasis and Manprusis, Mr Avoka, who is the Member of Parliament for Zebilla, said the deceased was from Bisa, a minority tribe.

He said due to the conflict the people were taking sides and advantage to cause mayhem.

Mr Avoka said there was a lot of built up resentment and mistrust among the people which likely to lead to lead violence at the least provocation.

He said security had been beefed up in the Bawku municipality with over 3000 police personnel deployed there with many more to be sent if necessary.

The Regional Security Council (REGSEC) was also meeting and based on their recommendation, the government would act accordingly, he said, adding that he was unable to give the cause of the latest clash because he was yet to be properly briefed by the REGSEC.

This, he said, was the reason why the ministry had not varied the curfew hours imposed on the township.

On Sunday night, a man identified only as Amadu was shot dead at Sabongari, a suburb of Bawki while another was attacked and injured yesterday morning apparently in retaliation.

The yet-to-be identified man is said to be receiving treatment, in hospital.

From Bawku, lbrahim A. Mohammed reports that Regional Police Commander Hamidu Mahama, has said the incident has created tension in Bawku but the security agencies were in control of the situation.

Commenting on the incidents, Mr Mark Woyongo, the Upper East Regional Minister, said he has instructed the regional Police commander to deal with those arrested without fear or favour.

Mr Woyongo said that the Regional Co-ordinating Council was mobilising more logistics including vehicles to facilitate the operations of the security agencies at Bawku.