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29.10.2005 General News

Illegal timber dealers attack Forestry Task Force

By GNA
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Accra, Oct. 29, GNA - The Armed Forces has warned that it would use "resolute and decisive military action" to bear on those who would attack any of their men and security agents in the performance of their duties.

It said that action was to ensure that the interests of all peace loving Ghanaians were protected.

The warning came following the beating and injuring of four members of a Forestry Task Force made up of two soldiers and two forestry officials at Kasoa, near Accra when the security attempted to intercept a truck conveying illegal chainsaw lumber to a newly developed timber market called "High Tension" last Wednesday.

A statement signed by Colonel E.W.K Nibo, Director of Armed Forces Public Relations Directorate, said during the ensuing confrontation and attack by the timber dealers on the Task Force the AK 47 rifle of one of the soldiers went off piercing him in the thigh and hitting one Mary Benianah, a 13-month-old girl sitting on her mother's lap nearby. The victims who are all on admission at the 37 Military Hospital are responding to treatment.

According to the statement the Task Force, comprising the two soldiers, Mr Offei Dankwah, Technical Officer, and Mr Felix Akoto, the driver both of the Forestry Department were on their routine patrols in a Toyota Pickup in Kasoa and its environs when they spotted a yellow KIA truck loaded with unspecified quantity of unknown species of wood entering the Kasoa township at about 1620 hours.

It said the Task Force followed the truck, which went off the main road and entered the "High Tension" area only to discover that a hidden timber market had been established there.

It said immediately the Task Force entered the market, the dealers came out in their numbers to prevent the truck, the driver and the wood from being arrested.

Consequently, the mob attacked the team and attempted to wrest the AK47 rifle from one of the soldiers.

The statement said the mob increased in their numbers and became more aggressive and beat the two civilians until they became unconscious.

The Kasoa Police was subsequently informed and they went to the rescue of the civilians while the soldiers, who had sustained serious injuries were rushed to the Police station by a Good Samaritan. It said within minutes of the victims being evacuated to the Kasoa Police Station, the station was besieged by a mob because they were misinformed that little Mary had died as a result of the gunshot. The team members were therefore, kept in police protective custody until Weija Ambulance Service was called in to convey them to 37 Military Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Kasoa District Police Commander, ASP Charles Adalong, said the dealers had abandoned the "market" for fear of possible military attack and the Toyota Pickup used by the Task force was also recovered with multiple damages to the windscreens, doors and other parts of the body.

The investigative team also found out that sticks and stones, believed to have been used by the mob in the attack were scattered at the place.

The statement no arrests had yet been made by the police. "The Military High Command wishes to express its concern over the way and manner soldiers and for that matter, security personnel are being constantly subjected to mob action and attacks in recent times during the performance of assigned national duties.

"In the discharge of these duties the security personnel are always tasked to ensure the safeguarding of civilian interests. "The Armed Forces Command would like to state that, these unwarranted attacks, attitude and behaviour toward the military are therefore unpatriotic and unacceptable.

"It therefore wishes to advise people who are bent on putting impediments and obstacles in the way of the soldiers and other security personnel who are performing genuine duties to desist from such activities, in their own interests," the statement said.

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