Ghanaian President John Kufuor has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in the northern town of Yendi after inter-clan violence Wednesday left a traditional ruler and at least 35 other people dead.
Police officials in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, say the body of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani, the paramount chief of Ghana's Dagomba ethnic group, was found beheaded inside his palace in Yendi.
Witnesses say a group of attackers stormed the palace, killing a number of people inside. Reports from the scene say some of the victims were burned to death.
Police officials say the attackers were members of the Abudu clan, a rival to the Andani clan of which the king was a member. The two clans have traditionally shared rule over the Dagombas who make up the largest ethnic group of northern Ghana.
Witnesses say a number of homes in the town were set on fire as clashes erupted outside the palace between supporters of the two rival clans.
In a statement read on Ghanaian state television Wednesday, the country's minister of information and presidential affairs, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, said President John Kufuor declared a state of emergency and imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in Yendi. The statement also said the government is sending troop reinforcements to the region.
Anger had been growing between members of the two clans in recent days, but it is not clear exactly what sparked Wednesday's attacks.
Ghana in recent years has emerged as one of West Africa's more politically stable countries, but it has continued to grapple with ethnic rivalries. In December, more than a dozen people were killed in fighting between members of the Mamprusi group and ethnic Kusasis in the north of the country.