EIGHT armed robbers, all believed to be of Fulani extraction, died on Monday night when they engaged a team from the Police Buffalo Unit in a shoot-out at Anwiankwanta on the Kumasi-Bekwai road in the Ashanti Region.
Four others believed to have sustained gunshot wounds managed to escape into the bush and the police have called on the public, especially those manning medical centres, to be on the look-out for anyone with suspected gunshot wounds who may seek medical attention.
The robbers had barricaded the road about 7 p.m. and succeeded in robbing and molesting many travellers on the road when a detachment from the Police Buffalo Unit descended on them.
One of those who died during the action was identified as Ahmed Boakye, a Fulani man who had earlier been arrested for his involvement in a robbery case at a petrol filling station on April 22, 2007.
After his arrest, he was granted bail by a High Court in Kumasi where he is still on trial.
The police described the shooting as the single biggest operation against armed robbery in the country.
Before that incident, the biggest single confrontation with armed robbers had been in 2002, when five armed men who attacked a warehouse in Kumasi were killed. A policeman also lost his life in that operation.
The Ashanti Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Patrick Timbillah, later told newsmen in Kumasi that the fight against violent crime was on track and “there is no turning back”.
“I promised that we were taking the fight to them and that is what we are doing,” he said.
One policeman was injured in the arm from pellets fired from a locally made pistol used by the robbers during the shoot-out .
A police vehicle used in the operation was also dented in the confrontation which, according to the police, lasted about four minutes.
When the robbers were overpowered, the police retrieved four locally made pistols, 11 unspent cartridges, three spent cartridges, six mobile phones, five flashlights and a number of talisman from the scene.
Hundreds of people gathered at the precincts of the Ashanti Regional Police Headquarters where the bodies of the robbers were first sent before they were taken to the morgue. Some people in the crowd cursed them even in death.
DCOP Timbillah said about 6.20 p.m. on Monday, the police had information that some Fulani men had blocked the road and were stopping vehicles and robbing their occupants of their belongings. Consequently, a detachment of personnel from the Buffalo Unit was detailed to the spot.
The regional commander stated that while the police were getting near to the scene of the roadblock, they saw a number of vehicles doing the U-turn to escape attack from the armed men.
The policemen continued to the area but before they could reach the spot the robbers started firing at them, resulting in the injury to the policemen.
The police fired back, resulting in the death of the eight.
Their bodies had been deposited at the morgue pending further investigations.