GHANA: Deadly ethnic clashes in the north

Thursday, May 8, 2008
Ethnic groups in northern Ghana clashed on 5 May in the town of Bawku, northern Ghana, leaving at least five people dead.

Police have arrested some 72 people and imposed an “indefinite” 22 hour curfew.

Residents of Bawku are requesting police protection and many have asked to be escorted out of the town, the chief of police in the region, Ofosu Mensah Gyeabour, told IRIN.

Ghana’s Minister of Interior, Kwamena Bartels, said police are effectively “imprisoning the town’s residents in their houses”. Free movement is only allowed between 7am and 9am.

Bawku, a predominantly Muslim town in northeastern Ghana, has an estimated population of 206,000 most of whom are either from the Kusasi or Manprusi ethnic groups.

So far in 2008 at least 11 people have been killed in ethnic clashes in northern Ghana. In March, clashes left two more people died. On 1 January, houses were burned and at least four people were killed during fighting.

Bawku was one of the worst hit areas in January and it has remained under a dusk to dawn curfew since then.

Ghana’s President John Kufuor met leaders of the two ethnic groups in March and efforts to mediate the conflict have continued.

In 2001 at least 28 people were killed in Bawku when the two dominant ethnic groups in the town clashed after a kiosk belonging to one of the groups was burned down.

Northern Ghana is riddled with conflicts over ethnicity as well as over who has rights to assume certain chieftaincies.

Other regions of the country have experienced similar violence. In 2007, six people, including a policeman, died in a chieftaincy conflict in the Volta Region in the east.