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General News of Wednesday, 27 March 2019


Special forces arrest Togolese mercenary in Chereponi violence

Security forces separating violent conflict between Chokosis and konkombas in Chereponi in the North East region have captured a 26 year old hardened member of a notorious Togolese mercenary gang allegedly hired into the porous district to assist in the renewed land related clashes among the two long-standing indigenous neighbours.

This comes after repeated assertions by both factions that foreign fighters had invaded the area, some in military uniforms and using hard-body pickup vehicles, unleashing indiscriminate rogue operations including raiding villages of their targets and ambushing fleeing civilians.

It also followed an announcement made by the Northern regional minister, Salifu Saeed, during a news conference days ago that, security forces specialised in cross-border crimes and counter terrorism had been deployed to the troubled area.

Sporadic violence over land has persisted between the two ethnic tribes since mid 2000. It renewed in 2017 at the ground zero community of Nadoni, where two konkombas were killed during the violence.

In January 2019, fighting erupted, and again in March, which is currently relaxed but has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe after more than 20 communities completely burnt and about four people killed.

The latest violence started at a village known as Kwame- Nazori where unknown gunmen, operinting under the cover of darkness, were said to have opened fire on a crowd preparing for a pass-out ceremony.

Next day, deadly reprisals rocked the entire district for days and escalated to neigbouring Yunyoo and Saboba and were spreading to far Bunkprugu and Gushegu districts.

In the violent spillover, one person was killed and properties destroyed in two separate villages in the Yunyoo district and over five communities were burnt in Saboba, where a local chief escaped a fatal attack.

“The last person [for now] to be arrested is one Martin Gulani. We suspect him to be a mercenary who was hired from Togo to come and assist in the conflict”, Northern regional police spokesman, DSP Mohamed Yussif Tanko briefing the media, said on Tuesday.

“Indeed, he has admitted to that and gone ahead to mention six others with whom he came on four motorbikes from Togo”, DSP Tanko added.

The notorious gang was hired from a nearby Togolese village called Gbangu, according to the police, and we’re responsible for several destructions in the conflict.

The suspect was arrested in Chereponi after he got separated from his gang and lost his way. Police said, the suspect was planning to escape to Ejura in Ashanti region to plan his return to Togo.

The police also disclosed it has launched an extensive manhunt for the other suspects and their local accomplices and pay masters. So far, 11 persons have been arrested in the violence. Eight have been put before the court with varied charges and remanded in custody.

“We are carrying out investigation to see if we will be able to identify the others he has mention and arrest them: not only those persons her mentioned, those who influenced their coming into the country from Togo to come and add up and also disturb the peacefulness of the area”.