At least, nineteen (19) persons, who claim to be national security operatives, have been apprehended by the police in the Eastern Region for illegally mining gold in the Atewa Forest reserve.
The suspects, according to Joy News sources, invaded the reserve at Akyem-Akateng with arms on the dawn of Tuesday under the guise of clamping down on illegal miners.
The suspects, who were onboard a Toyota Land Cruiser V8, reportedly clashed with angry residents and forest guards who had vowed to resist illegal miners.
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The angry residents reportedly deflated the tires of the five V8 vehicles they used for the operation.
Confirming the arrest to Joy News, the Forestry boss, Kwabena Adu-Bonnah, said they were able to arrest them after the residents outnumbered the the armed men.
“Yesterday around 8:30 pm, an informant from Akanteng informed us about the presence of some people in military outfit entering the galamsey area so we mobilsed and around 4 o’clock and went to the community, by then they were coming down so with the help of the community we were able to arrest about 19 and later 11,” he stated.
The arrest of these persons brings to 65 the number of persons who claim to be members of the state security embarking on illegal mining in the Eastern Region, in a spate of 10 days.
“In a matter of 10 days we’ve been able to arrest 65 people who are either in military or police outfits claiming to be national security officers. Last week we arrested some, this week, we arrested four, 19 and 11 at some galamsey sites in the region. They have all been handed over to the police for further action,” Mr Adu-Bonnah said.
Though the police have remained tight-lipped, sources confirmed that the suspects have since been transferred to the Eastern regional police headquarters in Koforidua for investigations.