Accra, Ghana, Feb 10 – Seven women and three children were killed and 11 people injured when a dispute among members of a traditional ruler’s family in northern Ghana turned violent, police said Friday.
Sounds of gunshots were heard on Thursday in the town of Bimbilla after news that a local king was set to appoint a chief against the wishes of an opposing faction.
Traditional rulers are found across Africa and although they often have no formal role in the elected, democratic system, they remain figures of power and influence.
They are courted by politicians for advice and support, particularly over local issues, and shape public opinion.
In Ghana, kings rule by appointing chieftains to run parts of their kingdom.
“This was triggered by another chieftaincy dispute,” said Ebenezer Peprah, a police officer in the town, which is nearly 450 kilometres (280 miles) by road from the capital Accra.
“Out of the total of 10 bodies, seven are women and three are children, two girls and a boy,” he told AFP.
“Eleven people are receiving treatment at the hospital after receiving gunshot wounds.”
Peprah said the men ran away during the “intra-family fight”, leaving the women and children vulnerable to attack.
“When the fight started, the men ran away and left the children and the physically challenged. So when they go in and don’t find the men, they kill the women and children,” Peprah said.
“We have arrested 21 suspects and we are screening them to aid the investigations,” he said. “Things are calm but unpredictable.”
The interior ministry imposed a curfew on the town, while police are patrolling the area.