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16.09.2003 General News

Highway Robbery Rocks Tema-Aflao Road

By Chronicle
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Exactly 28 days after subjecting travellers on the Tema-Akosombo road to torture, robbery and shooting, armed men last Saturday went into a similar action, this time on the Tema-Aflao road, killing one driver and inflicting injuries on at least six persons.

Several vehicles, including an Inter City STC bus from Accra to Aflao fell into the trap set by the gangsters.

As if to deride the security agencies, these operations took place close to military camps; the first incident occurred near the Army Recruits Training School at Shai Hills and Saturday's incident was close to the junction to the Bundase Training Camp, now being occupied by the 64 Battalion of Infantry.

The Chronicle's findings were that the bandits in blue-black overalls started their operations at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, (exact time the Shai Hills robbery took place on August 16); forcibly taking away their victims' mobile phones and cash. They bore Fulani features and included a female.

Geographically, the Bundase area can be accessed through the Shai Hills with only the long hilly feature of a forest reserve standing between them but the rest is coastal savannah.

Drivers and passengers who spoke to The Chronicle at Abu Bridge, near Bundase, said the gangsters placed obstacles on the Abu Bridge to force vehicles to slow down and meander through.

At both ends of the bridge, vehicles were directed with torchlights to slow down before going through the obstacles and on the order of 'fire' the tyres of the vehicles were deflated with gunshots by armed men positioned for that purpose.

Occupants of the vehicles were made to surrender first all mobile phones, then monies and made to lie down on their stomachs.

This continued for a while until a police/military patrol vehicle approached and the armed robbers fled into the vast savannah.

Vinyo Mawuli, driving a Nissan Urvan bus, with registration number GT 4571 Q and an inscription 'Babylon' narrated to both security agencies and The Chronicle reporter how, on being signaled to slow down, they were made to go through the obstacles. He refused to comply and his vehicle was fired upon resulting in the injury of one passenger.

According to him, on approaching the obstacles, he saw the gunman ready to fire so he directed the bus, which was traveling at high speed, towards the gunman, who immediately jumped away as the vehicle ran over the obstacles.

He said the firing increased but he managed to jump from the moving vehicle, took cover in the bush and watched proceedings from that safe distance.

Vehicle after vehicle pulled up and the occupants were robbed at gunpoint but at a stage he saw the gangsters carrying a member of their team into the bush. A stray bullet must have hit him.

Not long after an Inter-City STC bus pulled up and the same ordeal was administered to the passengers.

Olowodzi Kwaku, Daniel Agbanu, Gilbert Nuworkpoh, Leonard Agbanu and Millicent Boateng on their way to Aflao-Lomé were among the victims who described the actual characters of the robbers.

According to them, they were traveling on a Ford bus and on reaching the bridge, they were attacked by the gangsters, who they noticed, had long silky hair and facial features of Fulani.

"They commanded us like the way they control cattle, 'kai kai', as the woman- member attempted to stab Millicent," one tearful victim recounted.

No one could say exactly how the articulated cargo truck driver was killed but his body was found in the bush.

On arrival of the police vehicle, the lookout man and who occasionally gave order to fire, shouted 'police' and they all vanished into the bush.

Kwesi Burger and his two Neoplan buses from Kumasi also fell victim.

The Chronicle investigations revealed that on hearing of the incident at dawn, Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations), Dr. K.K. Marfo, immediately dispatched the highway patrol team led by Supt. Agboada to assist the Tema police. On arrival, the team met Tema the Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Agnes Sika Nartey.

Chief Supt. Odai, second-in-command, led another team of policemen to comb the bushes and hamlets in and around Bundase.

Supt. Odai told The Chronicle at the scene that they found a number of empty cartridges and seven live bullets suggesting that the robbers used pump action guns.

At Gbesomi, a town sandwiched between the Shai Hills and Osudoku mountain, there were traces of the movements of the gangsters and a vehicle suspected to be their getaway car was later found.

The villagers attested to seeing a car at dawn, which was very unusual.

Incidentally, the military were ending their concentration exercise at the Bundase Camp about four kilometres from the main road where the robberies took place.

A senior security officer was heard remarking that the robbers were taunting them and that everything was being done to eliminate them.

On August 16, armed robbers in a similar fashion blocked the Tema-Akosombo road and for about two hours subjected travelers to torture.

Mr. Emmanuel Gbevlo Lartey, brother of Lt. Col. (rtd) Larry Gbevlo Lartey, former 64 battalion commander was shot and wounded by the gangsters.

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