Reports reaching Daily Guide from Atebubu in the Brong-Ahafo Region indicate that members of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church in the town stayed indoors on Saturday (the Sabbath) to avoid attacks by the Muslim youth in the area.
The Central SDA temple was demolished on Friday by an angry mob involving Tijaniyah Muslim youth who also burnt down the eight-bedroom official residence of the pastor in-charge of the SDA schools in the town.
Initial report suggested the Alhasuna sect was involved in the attacks but checks indicate that it was rather the Tijaniya group.
The Muslim youth engaged the police in an open-air gun battle and placed the entire area under siege, amid throwing of stones at the police and residents who dared come closer.
The irate Zongo youth, who wielded guns and other offensive weapons, launched the violent attack on the church following a dispute over a piece of land which the two religious sects were claiming ownership of.
As at press time yesterday, the situation was under control following the deployment of more police and military personnel to the town to maintain law and order.
The burnt mission house accommodated close to 20 teacher trainees who are doing their teaching practice in the school. They lost valuable items such as laptops, cellular phones, books and certificates, among others.
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Crime Officer, Superintendent Alhaji Maama Arhin, yesterday hinted Daily Guide that police investigations had pointed to two influential Muslim leaders who are believed to have incited the youth to engage in the attack.
The Crime Officer assured the public that the two identified Muslim leaders would be invited to the regional headquarters in Sunyani for questioning when the current tension in the town calmed down.
According to him, the chief of Atebubu, Nana Owusu Akyeaw Obrempong II, who allegedly sold the disputed land to the two religious organisations, had so far declined to talk to the police investigators to enable them build up their case.
The disputed land, which is about half a plot, was said to have been acquired by the SDA Education Unit in 1967, part of which they had used to build its basic school and the residence of the pastor in-charge.
However, the Muslim group had also claimed ownership of the said land, maintaining that they bought it from the chiefs in 2010 and had since been using the place as a prayer ground during the Eid festivities, especially at the end of the annual Ramadan fasting.
The church petitioned the district assembly, the traditional council and the district police command over a wall the Muslim sect was constructing around the land, which even blocked access to the pastor’s residence.
According to the authorities of the SDA School, after many efforts to settle the impasse had yielded no results, the school management resorted to the court where they succeeded in securing an interim injunction to restrain the Muslims from continuing with the project.
Reports said the Muslim youth continued the project despite the court injunction, which compelled the police to move to the site last Friday at the time they (youth) were working, resulting in the chaos.
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