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16.06.2005 Regional News

Seven injured in a demonstration at Prestea


Prestea (W/R), June 16, GNA - Seven people including a boy of 12 received gun shot wounds during a demonstration by communities of the Bogoso Gold Limited catchments area at Prestea on Thursday. The injured were admitted at the Government Hospital, Prestea. Five were treated and discharged but two, whose injuries are severe, are on admission.

A bullet passed through the right shoulder of Godfred Animiah and part of his left foot and the toe of Kofi Adama, was blown off. The rest of the injured were Joseph Otoo, Ahmed Saliu, Ekpaha, Godfred Animiah, Kofi Adama and Ampem Samuel.

More than 5,000 people from Prestea, Himan, Bondaye and some communities around Prestea poured down the streets of Prestea to demonstrate against surface mining by Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) at Prestea. Clad in red, singing and beating of "Asafo" drums, the people carried placards some of which read, "Kufuor Act Now" and " BGL Resettle Us Or No Surface Mining." Some of the demonstrators on reaching Neil Stevenson Park, where they were supposed to have ended, attempted to enter a nearby pit that security personnel were guarding.

The security personnel fired warning shots and threw teargas to scare them away but the more they fired the more the demonstrators came forward until the security personnel fired on the ground, which resulted in some people receiving gunshot wounds.

Later, a petition signed by chiefs, queen mothers, leader of Moslem communities, opinion leaders and concerned citizens of Prestea and Himan was presented to Mr Adamu Zurkannaine, Assemblyman for Cemetery Road Electoral Area at Prestea, for onward submission to the Wassa West District Chief Executive, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Ayensu. It said blasting was causing havoc at Prestea and the best alternative for them was to resettle the people.

The petition said the impact of blasting by the mine on daily basis was seriously affecting the inhabitants. It said BGL's operations have brought a lot of health problems, including asthma, cancer and skin diseases. It said, BGL's attention has been drawn through writings and meetings with chiefs, opinion leaders and management of BGL to find solution to the problem but all did not yield good results. It said the chiefs and the entire community have resolved that BGL should resettle Himan and Prestea or move three kilometres away from the town.

In an interview, Nana Joe Oppong, Dwantoahene of Himan, told Ghana News Agency that after 21 days if nothing was done about the blasting the communities would advise themselves.