Source: Savannanews24.com:Rafiq Abdulai:
Over 30 Armed military personnel believed to be part of the Operation Vanguard on Saturday stormed Afa Yili, a community under the kumbungu district of the Northern region and set ablaze properties belonging to individuals engaged in sand winning activities in the area.
Eye witnesses say the incident happened on Saturday between 10am through to 3pm.
A number of properties were destroyed including fourteen (14) Tipper trucks, one excavator, four (4) motorbikes and a dredging engine used on the white Volta.
The Afa yili community is one notable area where sand winning activities take place daily.
Hundreds of Tipper trucks ply the Tamale – Nawuni road on daily bases to fetch sand for construction purposes.
Sand winning is a source of employment to many in Tamale who depend on it to feed their families.
Victims say their properties were not only destroyed by the military but they were also subjected to severe beatings and corporal punishment.
One of the tipper drivers who only gave his name as Sule had his left arm broken as a result of the brutality.
Secretary to the Regional Security Council, REGSEC Alhaji Issahaku Alhassan disclosed that” the soldiers who carried out this operations were from the six infantry battalions, kamina barracks here in Sagnarigu Municipal but working under operation vanguard, the military command will issue a statement on it soon”.
He however refutes claims that, the military acted on the orders of the Northern regional minister Hon Salifu Sa-eed.
He further said REGSEC is unaware of allegations of extortion and brutality by the military.
Operation vanguard was recently launched by government to fight Galamsey (Illegal mining) across the country.
Galamsey in northern region happens mainly around Bole while sand winning is rampant at Nawuni and Afa yili.
Only few months ago, Sand winning activities were moved from Nawuni to Afa Yili on the orders of the Regional minister Hon Salifu Sa-eed only for the military to storm the area to destroy their properties.
Meanwhile, leadership of the tipper drivers Union in Tamale Sunday morning visited a number of chiefs to lay complaints about the actions of the military and to seek justice. These chiefs included the Gulkpe Naa, the Sagneri Naa, Lamashe Naa, Bugu Lana, Dakpema and Kasul Lana.
Meanwhile the Member of Parliament, MP for kumbungu Hon. Ras Mubarak said he will push for the victims to be compensated. In a Facebook post, the MP said “when people are suspected of breaking the law you arrest and take them through due process. You do not take the laws in to your hands because you are in uniform and burn down everything in site. Be rest assured we will push for punishment and compensation “.