IGP, Asawase mosque meeting abandoned

BY: Daniel Kenu
The youth holding placards demonstrating in front of the Central Mosque in Kumasi
The youth holding placards demonstrating in front of the Central Mosque in Kumasi

A planned meeting between the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, and the youth of Asawase at the Central Mosque in Kumasi yesterday was botched as the angry youth engaged the police in a showdown, chasing them with all manner of objects.

Some police officers who were present at the venue responded by firing tear gas from canisters, as well as warning shots, causing people, including journalists to run for cover.

The IGP, in the company of a government delegation which included the Minister of Inner-City and Zongo Development, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface; the Minister of Information, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, who were in Kumasi to mediate in the killing of seven youths from Asawase and Aboabo, had to recoil and move to the offices of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC).

Interestingly, the Muslims among the delegation joined the youth to offer Friday Juma prayers but events quickly took a different turn the moment they stepped out of the prayer session.

The placard-wielding youth, who included females, went on the rampage and started attacking the police with stones and other objects.

The police initially kept their cool but as the numbers of the youth kept increasing, they called for reinforcement which arrived with hot water spraying vehicles to disperse the rioters.

In spite of this, the youth were adamant. In the ensuing melee, the IGP and members of the government delegation left the scene in their official vehicles.

The Daily Graphic was to learn later that the IGP and the government team were in an emergency regional security meeting and a committee was expected to be set up to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, the IGP had earlier in the day met with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, behind closed doors.

The leadership of the community has condemned the attack on the security forces and called for calm.

Background

Last Thursday, the Asawase youth burnt lorry tyres, attacked a policeman and injured three journalists in protest of the killing of seven of their peers.

The seven were allegedly mistaken by the police for eight masked armed robbers who had attacked a sprinter bus and, in the process, shot and killed a police officer at Ayirebikrom near Manso Nkwanta in the Amasie West District in the Ashanti   Region.

A number of police personnel were deployed to the Manso Nkwanta area after the killing of the policeman.

According to the Ashanti Regional Police Command, the seven were killed in a shootout with the police when they attempted to attack a Chinese.
Their bodies have been deposited at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.

Facts

Around 8:30 a.m. last Wednesday, two police officers boarded a Sprinter bus that was travelling from Kumpese junction near Manso Nkwanta to Kumasi.

On reaching Ayirebikrom, eight masked men, wielding AK47 assault rifles and a pump action gun, attacked the bus with the two policemen on board.

In the process the two policemen were shot and their AK 47s seized from them.

One of the policemen who was shot in the stomach died minutes later while the other was left with a dislocated arm with four civilians also sustaining various levels of injury.