Two persons have been confirmed dead following a bloody confrontation between the Dagomba and Konkomba ethnic groups at Agbogbloshie in Accra yesterday.
Scores of people sustained various degrees of injury in the confrontation which was characterised by gunshots and the brandishing of machetes.
Three of the injured are said to be in life-threatening conditions.
Property running into thousands of Ghana cedi was also destroyed by rampaging residents of the slum community, leaving women, children and the business community running for their lives.
The Accra Regional Police Command confirmed the death of the two, but their identities were not given.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses put the number of casualties at four.
Not even the presence of a combined team of police and military personnel could stop the two factions from inflicting machete and gunshot wounds on each other.
At a point, the police had to use tear gas and water canon to disperse some of the residents who attempted to direct their attack at security personnel in a bid to stabilise the situation.
The violent confrontation began around 9 a.m. as a reprisal attack as a result of an earlier misunderstanding that happened last Monday night.
According to eyewitnesses, a young man from the Dagomba faction allegedly stole some items from a market woman and was beaten by a mob last Monday.
“The following morning (yesterday), the Dagomba man whose identity could not be established went to a Konkomba man’s shop with a group of people and pointed at the shop owner as one of those who had beaten him.
“The group tried to drag the Konkomba man to an unknown place. He resisted, and the attackers ended up destroying his shop. That sparked off the confrontation between the Konkombas and the Dagombas at the slum,” the source said.
When the Daily Graphic got to the slum community around 2 p.m., security personnel were engaged in a fierce encounter with the machete-wielding attackers, while sporadic gunshots could be heard from various parts of the slum.
Some people who had sustained gunshot and machete wounds were rushed to hospitals on motorbikes, amid wailing and shedding of tears by some family members.
Vehicular movement from Arena to Abossey Okai, as well as business activities at the adjoining Agbogbloshie Market, came to a standstill as the security personnel cordoned off the area to prevent the violence from escalating.
Some drug stores, rooms, provision stores, motorbikes and public places of gathering were destroyed, forcing the occupants to run to other parts of the capital city.
Speaking further on the clashes, the Chairman of the slum community, Mr Noah Kwame, said the failure of the police to respond promptly to a distress call he had placed to the James Town Police Command and some policemen accounted for the escalated violence.
“As soon as I saw that violence was likely to occur, I called the crime officer at the James Town Police Command, but he kept telling me that he needed to talk to the commander.
“At a point, he kept cutting my calls; meanwhile, innocent souls were being attacked. Just look around and see how women, children and others are weeping helplessly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the police said investigations were underway to establish the cause of the bloody confrontation.
The Accra Regional Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mrs Efia Tenge, told journalists who were at the scene that the police were doing an assessment of the death and injury situation at the various hospitals.
“The police had information about an alleged theft which led to communal violence and we needed to respond swiftly to stabilise the situation. We had to call for reinforcement, including military detachment.
“For now, what the police can say is that we have been able to stabilise the situation and we are going to stay put, so that we can give maximum protection to the community.
“We were able to prevent the clashes from escalating into the market area or the business district. Some people are suspected to be dead, but we cannot confirm this until a medical officer does so,” she said.
She added that the police would do all within their power to protect lives and properties, adding: “We hope that the strategies will work. We even engaged the leaders in peace talks this afternoon before this unfortunate thing happened.”