21.04.2005 General News

Ghana investigates Ivorian Rebels incursion

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Tamale (N/R), April 21, GNA - Ghana is investigating reported Ivorian Rebels incursions into Northern Ghana ostensibly in pursuit of gunrunners.

The Armed Forces Council of Ghana would be convening an emergency meeting to assess the situation, Defence Minister, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor said on Wednesday after visiting Tamale and Bole, both in the Northern Region.

Rebels in control of Northern Cote d'Ivoire on Saturday March 12 were reported to have entered Saru, a village in the Bole District on the northwestern frontiers of Ghana, and abducted the chief of the area. The reports said Captain Moro Sanda, a Ghanaian Army Officer, serving with the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire, assisted the Ivorian rebels to raid the entire community ostensibly in search of arms and ammunition. The group, which was allegedly led by one Sergeant Morro Quatarra, kidnapped the chief of the village, locked him up in a rebel-held cell in Cote d'Ivoire, shot one person and looted their belongings.

Dr Addo Kufuor said the situation was a very grave one, because it bothered on national security and could jeopardise the relative peace and stability in the country, adding that it was a slight on Ghana's territorial integrity.

He said UN soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire had no jurisdiction to enter Ghana and that the Ghanaian Officer in question would not be shielded if investigations found him to be guilty.

The Minister said the rebel incursion issue would be deliberated upon at an emergency meeting and that their findings and decisions would be forwarded to President John Agyekum Kufuor for the necessary action to be taken.

When Dr Addo Kufuor got to Bole to investigate the allegation, the District Chief Executive, Alhaji Suleimana Adam Achanso told him that on March 13, this year, a report was made to the District Police Commander by the Police Officer at Tuna, another village in the District, that soldiers believed to be Ghanaians crossed over to Saru and arrested Saru Wura, the Chief of the village, and two other people and took them across the border.

He said the District Security Council (DISEC) quickly met and decided that the Bolewura should be contacted and assisted to send a delegation to find out what was happening.

The delegation, which he said was headed by the Bolewura's son, Mr Seidu Alhasan Hambee later reported that UN soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire and the rebels carried out the operation.

The DCE told Dr Addo Kufuor that Mr Hambee reported to him that the rebel leader at Bouna and Captain Sanda explained that they suspected that a Ghanaian, resident at Bouna, was selling arms to some people across the border in Ghana.

They said on March 12, they laid ambush and arrested the Ghanaian gunrunner in Bouna and another Ghanaian, who was alleged to have come to collect some arms from him.

The DCE said according to the information, three people were ambushed but one of them escaped.

He said when those arrested were interrogated, the alleged Ghanaian collaborator said he was the son of the Saru Wura and this made the rebels to arrest the Saru Wura and one other person from his house at Saru.

The DCE said upon the intervention of the Bolewura's delegation to the rebel held area; the Saru Wura and two others were released to the delegation.

The DCE said the matter was not reported to the authorities in Accra because the Regional Officer of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) in Wa told them that the incident was a UN operation and was ordered from Accra.

The DCE said that, apart from that incident, there were no reports of rebel incursions into that part of the country.

Dr Addo Kufuor later called on the Bolewura Amankwa Gbedese II, who corroborated the DCE's story about the incident.

The Minister described the incident as a "very serious issue", because it was with the help of Ghanaian peacekeepers stationed in Bouna that the rebels made the incursion into that area.

Bolewura Gbedese said his son was sent with a delegation to negotiate the release of the Saru Wura and those abducted along with him.

He registered his displeasure about the situation in the area, saying that, because the first incursion was not opposed, the rebels had made subsequent ones into the District to loot and in one instance burnt down a house in the process.

Dr Addo Kufuor said the developments in Cote d'Ivoire posed a great treat to Ghana's stability and warned that Ghana would not compromise its security and sovereignty. 21 April 05

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