Western Togoland separatists reportedly blocked multiple roads in the eastern Volta region on Friday, September 25, amid an apparent low-level uprising in the area. Activists linked to the Western Togoland Restoration Front (WTRF) reportedly used burning tires and other debris to block major roads entering the region, particularly in the North Tongu District towns of Kpong, Sogakope, and Juapong. Separatist leaders also issued statements on local radio calling for police and security forces in the region to stay indoors and surrender their weapons.
The unrest comes hours after separatists with the armed Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF) wing of the group attacked two police stations in Aveyime and Mepe, kidnapping three officers including a district commissioner. The attackers are also reported to have broken into a police armory and stolen an unspecified number of firearms and other equipment. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that at least two soldiers were shot during clashes with HSGF gunmen in the Juapong area on Friday morning.
Police have since announced that security operations are ongoing in the region following the unrest and warned travelers of ongoing disruption throughout the Volta region. The US embassy in Accra also issued a security message on Friday warning travelers to avoid the region, and the North Tongu District in particular, until the situation stabilizes.
Further unrest and associated security operations are likely in the Volta region in the near term.
Separatist groups have been campaigning since the 1970s for an independent Western Togoland state in the Volta region on Ghana's border with Togo. Whilst the movement has struggled to gain significant influence, the arrest of WTRF separatist leaders on treason charges in May 2019 brought a resurgence in separatist sentiment in the region, with the group making a declaration of independence in November.
Tensions in the Volta region are believed to have been increasing in recent weeks, with Western Togoland posters and road signs being surreptitiously erected on roads leading into the North Tongu District. On Thursday, September 24, the WTRF released footage of several hundred uniformed supporters allegedly attending graduation ceremonies from training camps in the region.
Those in Ghana are advised to avoid travel to and through the Volta region in the near term until the situation has stabilized. Travelers in the region should shelter in place, monitor developments, and heed any directives issued by security forces and local authorities.
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