Two Canadian women have been abducted in Ghana, security sources said Thursday, a rare attack in a country seen as one of the most secure in the West African region.
The Canadians, understood to be on a university exchange program, were abducted on Tuesday evening in Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, some 200 km (125 miles) northwest of the capital Accra, police sources told AFP.
The sources suggested this was a kidnapping for ransom, but no official statement has been made.
Kidnappings and violent crime against foreigners are rare in Ghana.
But earlier this year, local media quoted President Nana Akufo-Addo as warning that action must be taken to make sure kidnapping “doesn’t become a feature of our society.”
In April, an Indian man was reportedly abducted, also in Kumasi, by an armed gang demanding a cash ransom. He was swiftly rescued by police.
Tourism is an important industry for Ghana, and Kumasi, the historic capital of the Ashanti kingdom, is favourite stop.
Ghana is a country of some 30 million people, where more than two-thirds of people follow Christianity and the rest Islam and other religions.
It has long been seen as a bulwark of stability in a region struggling to contain multiple groups of extremist fighters.
Akufo-Addo, speaking on Wednesday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr, called on the Ghanaian people to protect religious tolerance.
“We are the envy of the world when it comes to the peaceful co-existence of different religious communities,” Akufo-Addo said in a prepared speech released by the presidency.
He also urged people to “report suspicious characters” to the police.
“We cannot surrender this beautiful way of life for anything, and, certainly, not to people who seek to pervert religious beliefs,” Akufo-Addo added.