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14.10.2002 General News

Four hit by stray bullets at Agona Swedru

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Four persons, including two school children, were hit by stray bullets when a Military/police patrol team and the Agona Swedru police clashed with workers of the Swedru Sawmill.

The injured are Kwame Eyiah and Nii Akotey, both workers of the sawmill, and Kweku Dufo, a 15 year-old JSS student, Alhassan Iliasu, a 13 year-old primary school pupil of the Swedru Holy Quran Primary School.

Kwame Eyiah, who was hit at close range while running to the scene of the clash, was rushed to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, while Alhassan Iliasu was admitted at the Swedru Government Hospital. Nii Akotey and Kweku Dufo were treated and discharged at the Swedru Hospital.

The police have confirmed that one of the injured persons is dead but they have refused to provide details. Madam Esi Mensimah, a 38 year-old woman who rushed Iliasu to the Swedru hospital, collapsed out of shock and was receiving attention at the hospital. The clash occurred when the Military/police patrol team intercepted a truck loaded with chain sawn lumber being sent to the sawmill.

Mr Ibrahim Yahaya, Organiser of the Agona Swedru branch of the Ghana Timber Association, told newsmen that the patrol team trailed the truck to the yard. He said members of the team fired three warning shoots to scare the workers who had besieged the Police vehicle. Mr Yahaya said some of the workers attempted to snatch a rifle from a soldier.

"Not barely 15 minutes later, about 20 policemen and soldiers led by the Divisional Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Justice Asante andother officers surrounded the sawmill and started shooting," he said.

According to him, more than 50 tear gas canisters were fired to disperse the workers. He said in the confusion, a shot hit the electricity lines, which caught fire sending the whole township into darkness.

Mr Yahaya alleged that the security men broke into the offices and and made away with an unspecified amount of money.

He said the team on their way from the sawmill, stopped a truck suspected to be one of the vehicles used to cart the chain-sawn lumber in the area and deflated the tyres.

Hajia Alimatu Saadia, an 80-year-old woman living near the sawmill who was hit by an empty tea gas canister collapsed and it took her granddaughter, Rakia Abdulai and other relatives two hours to revive her.

Chief Superintendent Justice Asante, refused to comment when contacted by newsmen.

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