Naboug, a community near Zuarungu in the Upper East region, is in the grip of terror after three men suspected to be armed robbers gunned down a motorbike rider last Friday night.
The attack, according to residents, is the fifth deadly assault the area has witnessed within the year usually on the bush-bordered main road between Zuarungu in the Bolgatanga East District and Kpatia in the Talensi District.
The victim, whose name was mentioned to Starr News only as Abu, bled to death after the assailants lodged bullets in his knee and thigh as he attempted to flee from them on his motorbike.
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A young man (name withheld for security reasons) who was with Abu when the three bare-faced men struck around 10:00pm said he was sitting behind Abu on the bike when the killers, now on the run, appeared from behind on that road. When the three men, all seated on one motorbike, got near their targets, the trail bike slowed down.
In a swift move, the two gangsters sitting behind got down and pulled out firearms. The other gangster on the motorbike overtook the victims and stopped a few yards in front of them. Caught between the split terrors, the defenceless preys circled their bike in a fast U-turn on the spot and were steering, perhaps, for the bush to escape when the armed men opened fire.
“When the two men alighted from the motorbike, one went on the left side of the road and the other one went to the right. The third person went ahead of us. When we turned back to run away, one of the two men who alighted from the bike came to the middle of the road and stood there with a gun.
“They pushed the motorbike, but we didn’t stop. So, they fired. They shot him (Abu) over there but he managed to ride the motorbike, whilst he was bleeding, until he got to this place. He could not move beyond this spot. This is where he collapsed,” the traumatised passenger told Starr News as he pointed at several bloodspots on the road where the victim fell unconscious.
He revealed further: “The armed robbers wanted his motorbike. After they shot him, they still followed us. They were getting near us after Abu had collapsed. Somehow, some road users appeared on motorbikes. When the armed robbers saw the lights of the oncoming motorbikes, they disappeared. I got a Mahama Camboo (a motor tricycle) to pick him. But it was too late. He had bled too much. He died.”
Angry Youths Search for Killers
A public outcry greeted Abu killing, with some infuriated youths in the community launching a search for the murderers soon after they had returned on Saturday from the morgue at the Upper East Regional Hospital where Abu’s remains were deposited.
“How long are we going to see this road being stained with the blood of innocent road users at the hands of armed robbers! Another house is mourning today and they are going have a funeral because of armed robbers,” fumed one of the youths.
Another young man observed: “We only see policemen on this road on market days, checking number plates and taking money. This is the fifth time armed robbers are attacking us on this road.”
A former parliamentary candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Tii-roug Yaro Zumah, who met the angry youth by chance on the road on Saturday, noted that armed robbery attacks did not happen on that road only at night.
“This has become a norm where every month there is a record of robbery on the users of these two alternative routes. The route from Winkogo to the mining site is better because it is busier. But that of Kpatia to the site is not easy. What just happened on Friday is just about the fourth or fifth time this year. Normally, they push people off their motorbikes and rob them of the motorbikes or any valuables on them.
“The police station at Zuarungu is about 200 metres from where the attack happened. Police visibility in that area is nothing to write home about. It is only on market days you get the police mounting barriers just to check unregistered motorbikes. But after 6:00pm, they are confined to their quarters and their duty points,” said Mr. Zumah.
He added, saying: “Robbers are having a field day there, targeting new motorbikes not only at night but also in the day. To ascertain the facts, the police could also use new motorbikes on that road and see if armed robbers would attack them or not.”
Police to Extend Patrol Time
Police have, in the wake of the latest attack and killing, hinted at plans to extend the patrol hours in the area to deal with the recurrent armed-robbery operations along that road.
A high-ranking police officer, who did not want his name mentioned in this report because he thought somebody else should be talking to the press on the matter, asked residents as well those plying the road not to panic.
“They should not fear,” he reassured. “After this incident, which happened between 10 and 11 o’clock, we are trying to extend our patrols from daytime to night. We will be frequenting the area where we suspect criminal activities may occur. They should not fear. We used to patrol that area during daytime. But this incident is an eye-opener. We will extend our patrols there.”
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News of the tragedy has spread beyond the community, with alarmed citizens discussing it at marketplaces and in the streets as the incensed youths intensify their search for the gunmen on their own.
The Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Osei Ampofo-Duku, told Starr News he had been informed about the gang attack. He said the police, despite the vehicular challenges confronting them in that new district, would step up patrols in the area.
“We are aware of it (the robbery attacks along the road) and we are also adopting strategies to combat it,” the Regional Commander stated Monday.