Government has downplayed reports suggesting that Ghana is facing imminent terrorist attack, claiming that the country remains safe and calm.
This is in reaction to apprehension expressed by some members of the public over security alerts and notices issued by the Canadian and United Kingdom (UK) High Commissions in Accra, cautioning their citizens in Ghana to be careful of possible terrorist attacks.
The Canadian High Commission said: “There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include shopping malls, government buildings and public areas such as bars, restaurants, hotels and sites frequented by Westerners. Be aware of your surroundings in public places.”
On crimes, it said, “Pick-pocketing, purse snatching and attacks by individuals on motorbikes are increasing in Accra and its surroundings, including areas around the High Commission of Canada. Violent crimes have also increased, including armed robbery. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone or displaying signs of wealth. Home invasions are on the rise. Affluent areas in Accra where foreigners live are targeted and some thieves carry firearms.”
The High Commission of the UK also posted on its website similar information.
However, the government of Ghana has described as standard caution, the terror alerts issued by both the UK and Canada.
In a statement signed by Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, the government said the National Security Ministry has taken notice of news reports of some travel alerts issued by western nations as a caution to potential travelers to Ghana.
“The ministry hereby informs the Ghanaian public that the alerts are only standard cautions and do not represent any specific known terrorism threats to the nation. Through collaborative and intelligence sharing arrangements with international allies, the nation’s security agencies will be aware if there is a known threat in the offing.
“The public is hereby assured that the nation faces no known terror threats at the moment and remains safe,” the minister stressed.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and the Canadian High Commissions have denied issuing any fresh terror alerts that warn against travelling to Ghana as a result of imminent terrorist attacks, according to Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah.
The minister said the alerts being reported now have been on the websites of both countries’ representatives in Ghana for years; Ghana has not experienced any terrorist attacks before, albeit some attacks on neighbouring countries and therefore, it is possible that there can be an attack in Ghana. “Nevertheless, there is absolutely no new specific threat,” he averred.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah said that officials in-charge of security at the Canadian High Commission had expressed surprise at the media reportage, describing the reports as ‘media mischief’ which need to be ignored.
Speaking on Class Fm – an Accra-based radio station – the minister noted, “This is only a travel advice that the western countries have been known to issue to their citizens. The one that is on the website today that has caused all this panic is not something that was planted yesterday or this week, certainly not this month, or this year; it’s been there for years. The same advice word for word, so I don’t really know what has changed.
“Indeed, one of them simply says that ‘Ghana has not experienced any terrorist attack in the past but there have been terrorist attacks in some neighbouring countries, and therefore, it is possible that there can be an attack in Ghana’. This is the advice and I don’t really find anything alarming in that sort of advice, especially when it is not a new one but has been there for a number of years. So, I don’t see why we should be panicking about this.”
Giving assurance to allay the fears of Ghanaians and foreigners in the country, the minister further stated, “I want to affirm that there is no known terrorist threat to this country. If there was any such known terrorist threat made known to our partners, we have a very good partnership with the United States; we have very good partnership with UK and with France. If there was any such thing, I would be the first person to be informed.
By Vincent Kubi