The Catholic Church in Ghana is taking steps to train its security personnel and other church leaders in the wake of recent terror threats in the country.
On Sunday, police personnel manning Ghana’s borders to Burkina Faso at Hamile in the Upper West Region arrested a Burkinabe with a loaded handgun at the Hamile Roman Catholic Church.
The suspect, a 55-year-old, was arrested at around 8 am, after members of the church raised alarm about his suspicious behaviour during a church service thereby heightening tensions amid the increased threat of terror attacks on churches in the sub-region.
Executive Secretary of the Department of Social Communications at the National Catholic Secretariat, Rev. Fr. Dieu Donne Kofi Davor allayed fears saying the church is liaising with the National Security to develop a plan.
“As a church we are worried and so at the national level, measures have been put in place to ensure that all our churches are educated on what to do so as to avert the possible attacks so far as the threats of terrorism is close to us. Three weeks ago, we had a meeting with the national security minister and one of the decision taken was to come out with tit bits on what to look out for as members of a church.”
“There will also be training of people at the various dioceses in Ghana so that we can train our own individuals in the local churches we have. This has started as we wait for the national one to begin. All the Archdioceses and dioceses have taken it upon themselves to create awareness and to train people who have first contact with people in our church. And by this, they can pick up signals and talk to the appropriate authorities.”
Four persons were killed in an attack on a Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso late in May.
“One of the things the National Security has promised to do is to provide armed security personnel on our premises to protect people who have come to worship their God. So while our internal security will be working, the external one which is our national security apparatus are also been engaged. So for the training that we are giving our people is from the National Security. This has already started, that is why the people in Hamile were able to detect the strange behavior of this Burkinabe. For instance, in my parish all the internal security, ushers and the leaders were taken through training to be able to detect some of these activities of terrorist and intruder. This is going to continue at all the other parts of the country so everyone is involved”, the Rev. Fr. added.
The terror fears have led the police to even suggest the banning of bags from churches.
Police in the Central Region called on the clergy to consider banning the use of bags in churches to reduce the risk of an attack.
Observers have also urged churches to improve security in churches and worship centres over possible terrorist attacks.
Security agencies in the country have met the leadership of the Christian community to discuss how to enhance security at the various churches in the wake of the concerns.