Hundreds die as ethnic clashes sweep Ghana

ACCRA - More than 500 people have been killed in ethnic fighting between the Konkomba and Nanumba peoples that has spread across northern Ghana, military sources said yesterday.

Bodies littered roads where ethnic Konkombas had burnt about 30 villages between Bimbila, the Nanumba capital, and Yendi. Thousands had been made homeless in the fighting which erupted on 3 February, the sources added. One military source said the fighting had spread to seven districts and engulfed other tribes.

In Tamale, Brigadier Henry Smith, commander of the 2nd Infantry, said the army had buried 168 people in Tamale and 68 in Yendi. Thirty-one of the bodies were found in the Yendi river, which provides the town with drinking water.

Brigadier Smith said it was difficult to give an exact death toll because many people had been killed in the bush and their bodies not found. Others had been thrown into rivers or died in the flames of their burning homes.

The Konkombas, settlers from Togo, have a history of clashes with the landowning Nanumbas. They are now demanding paramount chief status, which would entitle them to own land as well.

The other tribes' refusal to give in to their demands has been the main reason for conflict, but the latest fighting erupted when a Nanumba killed a Konkomba in a market-place row over the price of a guinea-fowl.

A state of emergency and dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on Tamale and the districts of Yendi, Nanumba, Gushiegu/Karaga, SabobaChereponi, East Gonja and Zabzugu/Tatale.

Brigadier Smith said three soldiers, including a lieutenant, were killed last Friday when they went to meet a group of Konkombas to discuss conditions for ending the fighting. Their armoured vehicle was set alight.

He said that about 3,000 refugees, mainly women and children, were being kept at police stations, military barracks, mosques and schools at Tamale, Yendi, Bimbilla and on the Volta river at Akosombo port.

The Red Cross regional office in Abidjan said on Friday that more than 6,000 Ghanaians had fled over the border to the northern Togolese village of Petab, 30km (18 miles) west of the town of Guerinkouka.

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