“Galamsey” operators shoot Forestry Commission staffer in the head and back

This shooting is the second incident in six weeks. The first was the kidnapping of another member of the Forestry Commission staff, Vitus Yourdong, in the Asukese Forest Reserve in the Bono Region

A staff member of the rapid response unit (RRU) of the Forestry Commission (FC), John Baba Konlan, has been shot in the head and back by unidentified illegal miners (galamsey operators) in the Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve of the Western Region.

The Takoradi forest district office of the FC’s forest services division had information that illegal miners were operating in a part of the reserve near the Morrison Community.

A team of nine from the Forestry Commission, made up of rapid response unit staff and forest guards, was quickly dispatched to the site to ascertain the situation.

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

Gunshot wounds to the shoulder suffered by John Baba Konlan of the Forestry Commission during the attack in the Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve, Western Region

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 one member of the team, a few minutes after they had taken their various routes to the pit, he heard gunshots and began to look out for signs of danger.

As he moved forward he saw the illegal miners running into the forest, leaving their tools behind. A few minutes later, he said, he heard one of his team members screaming and calling out to the rest of the team to come to the aid of Konlan because he had been shot.

The team called off the whole exercise so they could carry Konlan to safety. He was vomiting blood. The FC team walked through the forest for over an hour to get back to the spot where their vehicle was parked.

Konlan’s colleagues took him to the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Takoradi, Western Region. He was referred to the Cape Coast Regional Hospital for further treatment.

John Baba Konlan of the Forestry Commission was shot several times in the head during the attack in the Cape 3 Points Forest Reserve, Western Region

From there, Konlan 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 “non-contrast serial axial CT scan of the head” carried out on Konlan showed, among other things, “multiple metallic bullets”. A doctors report said that “one [bullet] located in the left temporo-parietal 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; two 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.”

Repeated attacks

The shooting incident has been reported to the Takoradi Central Police Station but no arrest has been made so far.

Staff of the Forestry Commission rapid response team have come under brazen attack by illegal foresters and galamsey operators in recent times.

The Konlan shooting is the second incident in six weeks, the last one being the kidnapping of Vitus Yourdong in the Asukese Forest Reserve in the Bono Region.

Yourdong was in a rapid response team deployed to the reserve to arrest illegal chainsaw operators. He was captured, kept by his captors for over two weeks and then dumped at a refuse site at Nkawkaw-Asona in the Eastern Region.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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