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Guinea - report from Conakry

Opposition claims 157 dead after army fires on protesters

Article published on the 2009-09-29 Latest update 2009-09-30 07:52 TU

Guinean police arrest a demonstrator in the capital, Conakry, on Monday(Photo: Seyllou/AFP)

Guinean police arrest a demonstrator in the capital, Conakry, on Monday
(Photo: Seyllou/AFP)

There were sporadic clashes between security forces and opposition supporters in Guinea's capital Conakry on Tuesday, the day after security forces shot dead as many as 157 protesters and wounded 1,253 others. France has suspended military co-operation and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has dubbed the incident a "savage and bloody" crackdown.

There were "sporadic gunshots" in the capital Tuesday, reports RFI's correspondent Karim Kamarra after opposition supporters set up roadblocks.

"So now the soldiers are trying to push them back and to make sure that the street is free so that the people can go about their normal business," he says.

Q+A: Correspondent Karim Kamarra

29/09/2009 by Marjorie Hache

"Some of the angry demonstrators who took to the streets yesterday are trying to do the same today," he says. "But not the majority of them because those who went to the streets yesterday are very much tired, they are weak, some got seriously wounded and they are verymuch afraid of what happened.

"So they don't want to see yesterday's scenario repeated any more."

The latest death toll come from the Guinean Human Rights Organisation, while Guinean opposition parties previously said 128 were murdered.

"France condemns this with the greatest possible firmness and calls for a return to calm," France's Junior Minister for Co-operation Alain Joyandet told RFI.

The people had gathered at a city stadium in the seaside capital Conakry to oppose any bid by the junta leader, who seized power last December, to run for President in the upcoming January elections.

Opposition groups and witnesses said women were brutally raped by soldiers during the violent repression, while outcry boiled over amid reports troops were removing bodies to hide the scale of the bloodshed.

"They were raping women publicly," opposition activist Mouctar Diallon told RFI. "Soldiers were shooting everywhere and I saw people fall. They were live bullets.

"Women were stripped naked. The soldiers were putting their rifles in the vaginas of these women ... I saw this myself."

After crushing the protest against junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, military commanders issued instructions for all bodies from the demonstration to be taken to the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp, rather than to morgues, a Red Cross source told the AFP news agency.

Camara started a tour of the country at the weekend, fuelling speculation that he will stand in the election.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon slammed the "excessive use of force" and said he was "shocked by the loss of life, the high number of people injured and the destruction of property”.

Camara told Senegal's RFM radio station that "I wanted to go (and see what was happening), I was so really disgusted when I was told" about the violence.

“I'd rather die [than see people killed] because I didn't take control of this country to have a confrontation," Camara said, speaking in disjointed sentences.

The United Nations, African Union, European Union and leading powers all condemned the killings.