A staff of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) of the Forestry Commission (FC), Mr. John Baba Konlan, has been shot in the head and back by unidentified illegal miners in the Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve in the Western Region.

The Takoradi Forest District Office of the Forest Services Division had information that some illegal miners were operating in the Reserve at a portion near the Morrison Community.

A team of nine staff made up of Rapid Response Unit staff and Forest Guards was quickly dispatched to go to the site to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the information.

Upon arrival in the Reserve, three members were left in the operation vehicle and the rest walked through the forest for over an hour, to the illegal mining site.

From afar, the team members spotted a dugout pit with illegal miners busily carrying out what is known as “dig and wash”. The team members decided to take different routes to enable them to encircle the illegal miners and arrest them.

According to a member of the team, a few minutes after they had taken their different routes to the pit, he heard gunshots and therefore became alert, looking out for signs of danger.

He moved forward a bit and saw the illegal miners running into the forest, leaving their working tools behind. He said a few minutes after, he heard one of his team members screaming and calling out to the rest of the members of the team to come to the aid of  Mr. John Baba  Konlan because he had been shot.

The Team, therefore, called off the entire exercise, carried Mr. Konlan, who was vomiting blood at the time, and walked through the forest for over an hour, back to where their vehicle was parked.

They took him to the Effia Nkwanta Government Hospital in the Western Region. He was referred to the Cape Coast Regional Hospital for further treatment. From there, he was referred to the University of Ghana Medical Centre in Accra, where he was admitted. He has since been discharged and asked to report for a review in the next two weeks.

A CT Scan carried out on Mr. Konlan indicated among others that a “Non-contrast serial axial CT scan of the head with bone windows shows multiple metallic bullets, one located in the left temporoparietal went through the bone into the brain from the left temporal and parietal to the left occipital and into the right lobes”.

“There are other bullets that did not enter the brain or fractured any bone; 2 are left in the left frontal scalp, one in the left parietal at the vertex, multiple lodged close to the angle of the left mandible and one in the soft tissue of the right neck”.

The case has since been reported to the Takoradi Central Police Station and no arrest has been made so far.

The staff of the Rapid Response Team has come under serious attacks from illegal forest operators in recent times. This is the second in a period of six weeks, with the last one, being the kidnapping of Mr. Vitus Yourdong in the Asukese Forest Reserve in the Bono Region.  He was part of a Rapid Response Team deployed into the Reserve to arrest illegal chainsaw operators. He was captured and kept by his captors for over two weeks, after which he was dumped at a refuse site at Nkwakaw- Asona in the Eastern Region.

By: Isaac Clottey

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