Ghana’s police are searching for two Canadian citizens kidnapped Tuesday from the West Africa country’s second-biggest city, Kumasi. The incident has added to a spate of other kidnappings, which police and security analysts say is a new trend.
The Canadians, 19- and 20-year-old charity volunteers, have not been named. David Eklu, the assistant commissioner of police, says they were abducted from outside a hostel in Kumasi.
Eklu says police have received a steady stream of tips from the public, and says detectives are “working around the clock” to find the pair.
Abductions and violent crime toward foreigners are rare in Ghana, but appear to be on the rise in recent months.
In April, an Indian man was abducted in Kumasi by an armed gang demanding a cash ransom. He was rescued by police.
In the same month, a consular-general from Estonia was also reportedly kidnapped in the capital, Accra, but was also rescued by police.
Between August 2018 and January of this year, three young Ghanaian women were kidnapped in the port city of Takoradi, about six hours from Accra. The police are still working to win their release.
Eklu does not think the incidents were linked.
“We have not been able to draw a connection between them,” he said. “This might be isolated cases but it is an emerging trend we are observing.”
He also said he does not think the Canadians’ kidnapping is terrorism-related.
For Vladimir Antwi-Danso, a security analyst in Ghana, the latest kidnappings reflect global security threats.
“It shows where Ghana is deteriorating in terms of security,” he said. “There are a whole lot of things that one would say have culminated in what is happening. It is not only the Canadians, but any other person who is kidnapped is problematic for security.”
Steve Collins, a British researcher in Ghana, says he has not felt threatened in the country, but as populations increased, so would opportunistic crime.
“Generally speaking, I find it a very safe place to be,” he said. “You have to be careful about places like Oxford Street and the bus stations and the tro-tro stations and so forth, but generally, I find it a very safe country.”
Kwesi Abedi, a taxi driver in Accra, found the latest kidnappings a concern, especially because he has daughters, all young adults, in Accra. Since the Takoradi kidnappings, he has tried to encourage them to take their personal safety seriously.
“I worry about them because you never know where they will be,” he said of his daughters. “They have friends and you may not know, someone might just accost them.”
While Eklu says Ghana is a safe nation, he adds that vigilance and awareness of safety is key, and something police will be emphasize in coming months.