There was pandemonium and near-bedlam when some alleged Chinese illegal miners opened fire on rioting youth of Manso-Nsiena, a town near Asante Bekwai in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region on Thursday morning.
Manso-Nsiena is a predominantly farming community of about 1000 inhabitants.
The chiefs and people of the town and the overlord of the area, the Otumfuo’s Werempemhene, Nana Opia Mensah II, angered by the activities of the mining company, which they claim their checks at the Minerals Commission indicate only has the authority to prospect for minerals but not to mine, invaded the mining site ostensibly to stop the Chinese miners from operating in the area.
However, the Chinese miners said to belong to the Hansol Company Limited reportedly fired gun shots to disperse the youth as they attempted to put in motion their intended objective.
The action by the Chines illegal miners forced three young men from the community to also go for guns to fire but from a distant position.
There were no casualties but the firing went on for about 30 minutes and the timely arrival of the police from Manso Nkwanta helped save the situation from deteriorating.
The ‘mine’ where the incident occurred is the largest. Fifteen excavators were at hand cutting through the ground when journalists arrived at the place at about 7am.
HelloFM‘s Sampson Nyamekye, who was at the scene together with other journalists from other media houses, reported on PeaceFM‘s flagship programme, “Kokrokoo” that there were about twenty (20) Chinese men involved in the incident.
According to him, the Chinese miners were wielding not just ordinary weapons but pump action guns, firing indiscriminately into the sky.
“Many townsfolk simply run helter-skelter for dear life,” he reported.
A resident in the community who gave his name as Kwao, revealed in an interview on “Kokrokoo” that the alleged Chinese miners have been operating in the town for about three months.
“…we (residents) were initially not bothered when they came to the town because we assumed they are there on a different enterprise, but we realize thay have began invading our properties…they (Chinese) fire warning shots any time they head here, thus scaring the locals away…even when they (Chinese) intend fetching water, they fire these warning shots resulting in our women and school children having to wait till 10 am when they (Chinese) are through…no one dares go near when the Chinese are around…,” he recounted.
According to Kwao, within the past week, five more Chinese mining companies have moved into the community to begin their operations so the locals, together with their chief and opinion leaders decided to go to the site to warn them against their illegal activities which was destroying the environment and posed a health hazard to the community.
Police Commander for the area, Chief Superintendent S.K. Kwakye later told newsmen that they were able to retrieve one pump action and six single barrel-guns from the Chinese.
Four of the Chinese illegal miners are in police custody whiles normalcy has been restored in the community.