Suspected armed robbers attacked a church in the West African country of Ghana Saturday, leaving three wounded during a nighttime service.
Police sources told Daily Mail GH that a gang of armed robbers stormed the Action Prayer Ministry in Kumasi around 2 a.m. Saturday, where they interrupted an all-night prayer service.
According to witnesses, one of the robbers fired a pistol into the congregation, forcing churchgoers to flee.
One of the three injured victims is only 2 years old, while the oldest of the three is 22, authorities report.
“All three victims sustained minor gunshot wounds on their legs,” an unnamed church member told a Ghanaian-based independent digital news outlet.
Those injured in the attack are said to have been taken for treatment to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, the capital city of the southern Ashanti Region.
Police are reported to have rushed to the scene after being alerted about the incident. Before they arrived, members of the church arrested one of the attackers, identified as 22-year-old Sunday Ayine. Meanwhile, an accomplice identified only by the name Emannuel is still at large.
Police discovered BB cartridges and an empty shell, according to the report.
The church attack comes as there have been several robbery cases recorded nationwide in recent weeks. According to GhanaWeb, the increase of robbery cases could portend “a looming security crisis.”
The attack on the Action Prayer Ministry came just days after armed robbers attacked the River of Life International Global Prayer Centre in Bolgatanga during a service.
GhanaWeb reported at the time that the robbers physically assaulted the church’s head pastor and stole money, phones and motorcycles that belonged to congregants.
Police explained that a machete and empty bullet shell were discovered at the River of Life prayer center.
“Pistol retrieved. Victims were interviewed. They claimed their mobile phones and monies were taken,” a police spokesperson told GhanaWeb.
The attack in Bolgatanga marked the second attack on a house of worship in Ghana’s Upper East Region in four months.
In November 2020, witnesses said robbers attacked two elders of the Church of the Pentecost in Sandema. The robbers allegedly stole the church’s offerings as well as phones and tablets belonging to churchgoers.
"I was in the company of a deaconess, who is our financial secretary, and one elder. When the two men entered the church, we even thought they were part of a COVID-19 team sent by [the] government to ensure that the church adhere[s] to the COVID-19 protocol,” presiding elder Francis Ayeuenkanbe Apanab told a local radio show at the time, according to Ghanian Times.
“They instructed us to lie down. They took the offering and bolted on their motorbike while giving warning shots.”
The United States-based persecution advocacy organization International Christian Concern reports that Ghana has historically been a safe country for Christians as 2010 census data show that over 70% of its population is Christian.
“While Muslims and Christians have generally lived peacefully among each other, fears of religious tensions have increased, especially toward the northern Burkina Faso border,” ICC said in a statement.
“Though it is unclear if this attack [in Kumasi] was religiously motivated or just a random act of crime, attacks on churches is a bad sign for the freedom of religion in a region where Islamic radicalism and attacks on Christians is growing rapidly.”
In neighboring Burkina Faso, the rise of radical extremist violence has led to a mass displacement of residents. Last August, the United Nations called Burkina Faso the “world’s fastest-growing” humanitarian crisis as 5% of its population was displaced. The international body estimates that the crisis has displaced over 1 million people.