THE POLICE in Kumasi yesterday dispersed hundreds of protesters on the Kenyasi-Antoa road in the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti Region after a deadly clash.
At least 16 people, including four policemen, were injured when the police used rubber and live bullets, as well as tear gas to break up the demonstration calling on government to fix the poor road network in the area.
The Kenyasi-Antoa road had been in a deplorable condition for many years, and residents of four communities, namely Bonwire, Antoa, Duasi and Kenyasi decided to register their protest to government.
Hundreds of residents including women took part in the demonstration which began around 6:00am amidst blockades on the road and burning of car tyres by the protesters.
Other demonstrators, numbering more than 20, also suffered bodily injuries after they were beaten by the rampaging policemen who arrived at Kenyasi with full force.
The people that suffered gunshot wounds and those that were beaten by the policemen were rushed to the various medical facilities in the city including the Manhyia Polyclinic and KATH for treatment.
Virtually all residents of Kenyasi took part in what initially looked like a peaceful demonstration until the irate demonstrators started burning tyres in the middle of the road and blocking the street.
This caused excessive vehicular traffic in the area, as students going to school and people that were plying the road to their various work places from other nearby towns could not do so, due to the blockade.
Rumours were rife that some persons that were hit by the bullets might have lost their lives.
This speculation caused panic among the Kenyasi residents.
Two people were said to have been killed and several others wounded by gunfire from police officers, according to the organizers.
But a police spokesman, Sgt. Godwin Ahianyo dismissed the reports of death, noting that only five people were injured during the clash.
According to him, the police, in an attempt to break up the protest, fired tear gas and warning shots after the demonstrators “went haywire, burning car tyres, hurling stones at police officers and mounting roadblocks.”
Sgt. Ahianyo said four officers sustained injuries after they were hit by stones thrown at them, while the windscreen of a police vehicle registered GP 3158 was smashed.
He mentioned the names of the injured officers as Constable Osafo Bosompem, Sgt. Ofori Mensah, Lance Corporal D.O. Yeboah and Lance Corporal Adusei, adding that three of them were from the Mamponteng District Police Command.
The police spokesman intimated that officers from the Swat Bravo Unit (formerly Buffalo Unit) were dispatched to the scene of the demonstration when those on the ground were not able to restore order after violence broke out.
However, organizers of the demonstration had a different story to tell.
Osei Assibey Bonsu, one of the organizers, told Daily Guide that they had converged on the Garden City University College junction to be addressed by one of their leaders when riot police moved into the area.
He narrated that the officers fired tear gas and live bullets, and pushed the protesters away from the road, amidst beatings.
According to Osei Assibey, one Gabriel Owusu was injured after a police officer had clubbed him several times during the clash, while more than 12 people including Yaa Subunu were wounded by gunfire.
He intimated that two residents of Duasi were reported to have been hit by bullets and died of their wounds in what he considered to be a peaceful demonstration.
Mr. Assibey explained that they, as organizers, had sought permission from the Mamponteng District Police Command whose officers were giving them protection until they were taken by surprise by the officers of the Swat Bravo Unit.
“They chased people into their houses after violently breaking up the demonstration calling on government to fix our poor roads for us.”
Daily Guide learnt that the police managed to apprehend some of the demonstrators for questioning at the station.
Some police gurus in the city also rushed to the scene to ascertain what was going on in the area.