20.04.2005 General News

Security Alert – Intelligence Chiefs Hold Crucial Talks

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Tamale (N/R), April 20, GNA - The Armed Forces Council is to convene an emergency meeting following reports of gun-running and incursions by rebels from Cote d'Ivoire to some villages in the north-western frontiers of Ghana.
Defence Minister Kwame Addo Kufuor stated this on Wednesday when he paid a day's familiarization visit to Tamale and Bole, both in the Northern Region, to assess the security situation in the area, following the alleged attack and abduction of a chief by rebels from Bouna, in Cote d'Ivoire.
An Accra daily, the Crusading Guide published in its Tuesday, April 19 edition that a group of rebels controlling parts of northern Cote d'Ivoire allegedly invaded Saru, a village in the Bole District, and raided an entire community on Saturday, March 12, this year, in search of arms and weapons, with the aid of one Ghanaian Army officer, serving with the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire, Captain Moro Sanda.
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, as well as a slight on Ghana's territorial sovereignty.
He said UN soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire had no jurisdiction to enter Ghana and that the Ghanaian officer in questioned would not be shielded if investigations found him to be guilty.
The Minister said the rebel incursion issue would be deliberated upon at the emergency meeting and that their findings and decisions would be forwarded to the President for necessary action to be taken. When the Minister 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 an officer at Tuna, another village in the district, that soldiers believed to be Ghanaians crossed over to Saru and arrested Saru Wura, the village's chief 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, Seidu Alhasan Hambee, later reported that UN soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire and the rebels carried out the operation.
According to the DCE, Hambee said the rebel leader at Bouna and a Captain serving with the UN mission in that country explained that they suspected a Ghanaian resident at Bouna to be selling arms to some people across the border in Ghana.
They, then on March 12, laid ambush and arrested the Ghanaian residing 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. Upon interrogation after the arrest, the alleged Ghanaian collaborator said he was the son of the Saruwura. He said this made the soldiers to arrest the Saruwura 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 Saruwura and the two others abducted with him were released to the delegation.
When asked by the Minister why that development was not reported to the authorities in Accra, the DCE said but for the fact that the Regional Officer of the Bureau of National Investigations in Wa, who told them that the incident was a UN operation and was ordered from Accra, they would have collaborated the issue with the relevant authorities.
The DCE said that, apart from that incident, there were no reports of rebel incursions into that part of the country. The Minister later called on the Bolewura Amankwa Gbedese II, who also corroborated the DCE's story about the incident. He 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 Saruwura and the other people abducted with him.
He registered his displeasure about the situation in the area, saying that, because the incursion was not opposed, the rebels have made several raids to the district, looting and burning down a house in the process.
Dr Addo-Kufuor then 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.

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