In the face of extremist attacks on churches and mosques in Ghana’s neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, by armed men, Ghana, a staunchly religious West African country, has been placed on high security alert.
The recent attack occurred on May 26, 2019, when four worshippers were killed in Burkina Faso. Since April 18, worshippers and two priests have been killed in four separate attacks in Burkina Faso.
Since 2015, nearly 400 people have been killed, according to a tally by the AFP news agency. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks on churches, the finger is being pointed at Sahelean militants aligned to global terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
In February 2019, the militants were reported to have killed four Burkinabe Customs officers at a checkpoint at Nohao, near the Ghana border, and burnt three vehicles.
Following these attacks, the Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies (ACSIS) last month issued a security alert that the Salafi Jihadist group, based in Burkina Faso, had been moving in and out of Ghana through the border with Burkina Faso over the past four months.
Churches and mosques are said to be target groups.
In a matter of days after the issuance of the security alert, a gunman was spotted in a Roman Catholic Church in Hamile in the Upper West Region. But, for the timely vigilance of two worshippers of the church who alerted the leaders and subsequently the gunman was arrested, the worst could have happened.
The vigilance of the two worshippers was acknowledged by President Nana Akufo-Addo during the 2019 Eid ul-Fitr celebrations on Wednesday, 5th June, 2019. He applauded them for exposing the gunman, and also applauded the leaders of the church for alerting the police, who immediately arrested the gunman, who is now standing trial in court.
This development has put the state security agencies of Ghana on high alert, as they have intensified patrols along Ghana’s borders with Burkina Faso.
As state security agencies, churches and mosques are on high alert, The Chronicle is asking Ghanaian businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets along the borders of Ghana, to also be on alert and ensure suspicious characters are immediately reported to the police for appropriate actions to be taken.
Again, The Chronicle is calling on the security agencies and their mother ministries – the Interior and Defence – to ensure religious worshippers, especially churches, either suspend all-night services or ensure they have adequate security measures in place to foil any possible terrorist attacks.
Assuming the gunman who was arrested in a church at Hamile had gone to there at night, how would he have been spotted with the gun?
The Chronicle also calls on the media to continue with its support for the police to educate the general public by way of providing security tips.
Ghanaian drivers who transport passengers to and from countries like Burkina Faso must also be educated by the security agencies on how to identify suspected characters on their buses who maybe armed, so they can report same to the security officers for the necessary actions.