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12.03.2009 Regional News

Fear grips Baatsona -As criminals terrorise residents

By The Statesman

Residents of Baatsona, especially those living around the Okpoi Gono junction, along the Spintex road have been living under constant fear for some time now following the activities of some miscreants and criminals who have invaded the area, and terrorising them.

Though no state of emergency has been declared in the area, the upsurge of criminal activities has compelled some of the residents to live under self-imposed curfew, as it is   increasingly becoming a foolhardy venture to move about in both the early and late hours of the day.

The fear of the people has been heightened by the recent murder of one Agyeman, a barber, at Okpoi Gono. The victim, who was dumped on the rails, had his head chopped off, while the heart and sexual organs were removed.

According to the residents, the activities of the criminals, many of whom are said to be nationals of Nigeria, involve attempts to siphon blood from their victims, snatching of mobile phones and bags, as well as armed robbery.

The Statesman has gathered that a number of people residing in the area have fallen victim to the nefarious activities of the criminals, especially those engaged in the snatching of mobile phones, who usually rob their victims at gunpoint.

Members of the mobile phone-snatching syndicate reportedly use advanced motor bikes, which are said to carry Nigerian registration numbers.

Over the weekend, a 20-year old girl narrowly escaped being kidnapped by a group of unidentified people who were said to be using a Mercedes Benz vehicle with a Nigerian number.

According to eye witnesses, the incident happened around the First Lodge hotel, recently opened, along the Coastal-Railway road at about 10:30 p.m.

"Master, this one I saw it with my naked eyes while returning from work. We were three in a taxi when we saw at a distance two men trying to pull the girl into their car.

We suspected the people were criminals so we asked the driver to speed up, and immediately they realized we were close to them they left the girl behind and sped off,' a victim of phone snatching, who gave his name as Paa Kwesi, told this paper.

Some of the residents told The Statesman over the weekend that it was becoming increasingly risky to move alone in the night or early in the morning, when the criminals operate.

The Baatsona community used to be a "no-go' area in the past as a result of high levels of criminal activities, including murder. But until recently, residents in the area had enjoyed a considerable level of peace and security as a result of intensified police patrols in the night.

According to the residents, they have not witnessed much in terms of night patrols by the police since the change of government on January 7, citing this as the possible cause of the upsurge of criminal activities in the area.

They are, therefore, calling on the Interior Minister, Cletus Avoka, and the acting Inspector General of Police, Elizabeth Mills-Robertson, to take necessary steps to provide adequate security for the area, to enable them go about their legitimate business without any fear.