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Sports News of Saturday, 12 May 2001

Source: GNA

Angry Youth storm Nima Police Station

Soldiers fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths who attacked a police station in Ghana's capital on Friday in a protest over a soccer stampede that killed 126 people, witnesses said.
The youths blame police for causing Wednesday's stampede by using excessive amounts of teargas in a packed stadium.
Military police have taken over regular police duties in most areas of Accra amid mounting public anger and anti-police demonstrations since Africa's worst soccer tragedy.
President John Kufuor renewed his appeal for calm on Friday during a memorial service for victims at Accra's central mosque.
But in the teeming and poor Muslim suburb of Nima, home to many of the victims, angry youths attacked a police station, blocked roads and set fire to kiosks and tyres.
Scores of armed soldiers and around a dozen armored police and military vehicles took up positions on the main access roads to Nima. A military helicopter circled the scene until a tense calm was restored late on Friday evening.
The protest took on a political tone, with youths chanting for the return of former President Jerry ``JJ'' Rawlings, who stood down in December after nearly two decades in office.
``We want JJ,'' witnesses quoted the youths as saying. ``We don't want police.'' Some carried pictures of Rawlings.
In December's presidential election Kufuor beat the chosen successor of the charismatic Rawlings, who seized power in 1981 in the second of his two military coups.
One government official said he suspected the protests may have been instigated by Kufuor's opponents. Tensions between members of the new and old administrations have risen since some former ministers were charged with financial mismanagement.
At least 126 people died in the stampede at the end of a match between leading teams Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.
Local radio said up to 130 people had died.
``I am appealing to religious leaders to pray for Ghana in this difficult time and to save us from further turmoil,'' Kufour said at Friday's memorial. The government announced three days of national mourning, ending with a memorial service on Sunday.
Outside the mosque, youths chanted anti-police slogans at officers. Police also fired shots in the air on Thursday after a mob, bent on revenge, attacked the same police station in Nima.
Many in Ghana think police overreacted to crowd trouble when they fired several canisters of teargas into the stands of the packed stadium after fans hurled missiles onto the pitch.
``I would say this was not a tragedy but the perpetration of sheer ignorance. When will the Ghana police force use common sense instead of force?'' asked fan Baba Saidu on Friday in a comment on the Web site of Ghana's popular Joy FM radio.
Bereaved relatives continued to besiege the morgue at a military hospital, waiting to collect the bodies of the dead or still searching for their loved ones. Medical officials said they had identified 80 of the victims, mostly Muslims.
``This is not the time to apportion blame or seek scapegoats. Let us not rush to judgement,'' Kufuor said in a national broadcast on Thursday night, announcing the creation of a five-member commission of inquiry. ``I appeal to all of you to show restraint and calm. The eyes of the world are upon us.''