Residents flee Hohoe---After burning of 2 houses during curfew hours, Thursday, June 14, 2012 (Front)

For fear of further reprisal attacks, about 923 residents of the Zongo community in Hohoe in the Volta Region have fled to Jasikan, about 40 kilometers away to seek refuge.

More continues to flee in neighbouring towns and villages in view of the insecurity in the Hohoe area.
According to the police, the displaced people had been registered at Jasikan, where the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had provided them with relief items.

In spite of the heavy police and military presence in the Hohoe municipality, the houses at the outskirts of the Zongo community were torched at dawn on Wednesday during curfew hours.

The houses, said to belong to members of the Zongo community whose owners had fled, were ransacked before being set ablaze.

The police are not ruling out the possibility of thieves taking advantage of the situation, even though there is a curfew in the municipality.

“KEEP OFF” was boldly written on the wall of one of the houses which was reduced to ashes.

The Assembly Member for the Gbi-Gbla Zongo Electoral Area, Mr. Jibrila Buhari, expressed fear at the turn of events, saying the community was living in a state of perpetual fear, as sections of the Zongo community were without security.

“People are issuing threats through the mobile phone. They call and say so many unnecessary things. We are living in fear,” a resident of the community said.

There is currently a heavy armed police and military presence in Hohoe where almost all the houses and vehicles belonging to the indigenes fly red pieces of cloth.

Security detail has been placed at vantage points, including the Bank of Ghana, the Hohoe Municipal Hospital, the Zongo community and the palace of Togbega Gabusu, the Paramount Chief of the Gbi State.

While some businesses opened for normal activities, several others remained closed.

Workers of Zoomlion were on the street busily carting away the debris of the burnt shops.

Pockets of youth gathered at various points discussing the incident, which had virtually crippled economic activities in the town.

Samson Davordzi, a resident, does not see an end to the conflict soon if the leadership of the two communities does not hold a peace march through the town.

“They destroyed the chief's palace and beat our people, while our people burnt their shops. The pain is still deep in members of both communities. The only way out is for the leaders of the two communities to lead the way to peace,” he said.

Many indigenes of Hohoe remain bitter about the destruction of Togbega Gabusu's palace, the municipal hospital and the alleged beating of relatives.

“As a visitor, you cannot burn the palace of the overlord of the land and expect to be left alone. This is far from over,” an angry visitor who visited the palace on Wednesday morning said.

Even though the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu; the Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Henry Ford Kamel, and the leadership of the Gbi State had been involved in marathon meetings to calm nerves, it appears tempers are far from being calmed.

Meanwhile, the hustle and bustle that characterises the Hohoe Municipal Hospital has been brought to a halt.
The hospital has been deserted, as both members of staff and sick people have stayed away for fear of being attacked.

For a hospital that attends to some 400 outpatients daily, only four patients were there as at 8:30 a.m.
Mr. Anthony Agbitsu, the fourth person who sustained injuries from a gunshot and a few patients were on admission.

Narrating his ordeal, Mr. Agbitsu, 41, said he had attempted to save a friend who had fallen into a ditch after a stray bullet had hit his friend and another thing had hit him in his abdomen.

It turned out to be another stray bullet from the police which was meant to scare away rioters.
With his face showing he was in pain, he said even though he was feeling much better, his left leg was numb and he could not lift it.

The Matron of the Hohoe Hospital, Ms Patricia Azumatse, said in spite of the skirmishes, some of the members of staff were still at the hospital attending to patients.

“If the community assures us that it will not attack us again, I think more members of staff will return to work. The fact that we helped a woman from Zongo community this morning shows that we are for everybody who enters the facility. We have patients here and we cannot abandon them,” she said.

Effort to get in touch with the Hohoe Municipal Chief Executive, Dr. Mrs. Margaret Kweku; the Hohoe Divisional Police Commander and Togbega Gabusu to speak to the issue proved futile.

Three persons were reported to have been shot dead in the incident, while an unspecified number had sustained injuries, during reprisal attacks between the Zongo community in Hohoe, on the one hand, and residents of the town, on the other, early on Monday.

Togbega Gabusu's palace, the Hohoe Market and the lorry park were burnt down, while the Outpatients Department (OPD) of the Hohoe Municipal Hospital was vandalised.

A number of individual shops have been destroyed in the attacks.

On Monday, the entire Hohoe town was held hostage, as residents remained indoors, while many travellers could not enter the town from Golokwati, Jasikan or Lolobi.


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