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Protestors killed

September 29, 2009

The EU has joined an outcry over shootings by Guinean forces of protestors in the capital, Conakry. Reports say scores of people were killed when they defied a ban on rallying at a sports stadium.

Dadis Camara
Camara blames "uncontrollable elements" for the bloodshedImage: dpa

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana condemned the use of force by the Guinean junta. He added, "I urge . . . the immediate release of the arrested political leaders and call on the authorities to exercise maximum restraint and ensure a peaceful and democratic transition."

Condemnation also came from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Guinea's former colonial power France. The African Union said it deplored the "indiscriminate firing on unarmed civilians."

The leader of the Guinean junta, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, sought to distance himself from the killings, saying he was "disgusted" when told about what he called a "confrontation."

"Uncontrollable elements in the military" had committed atrocities, he told Radio France International.

Attack on peaceful demonstration

Monday's crackdown began when thousands of people led by a coalition of opposition parties gathered outside Conakry's largest stadium to challenge any bid by Camara to run for president in an election due next January. Witnesses say protestors defied a ban and entered the stadium, which has official capacity for 25,000. Police squads initially used tear gas and baton charges outside the stadium. Then shots were heard and bodies were later seen in and around the stadium.

The news agency AFP quotes a police source as saying 87 bodies were collected. Medical sources said trucks picked up "dozens of bodies" from a hospital, including those of four women, and took them to the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp, the junta's headquarters. Other sources put the death toll as high as 157.

map of Guinea
Guinea is a major exporter of bauxiteImage: AP

Camara took over the francophone West African nation in December 2008. He led a bloodless coup within hours of the death of the then-strongman Lansana Conte, who had been in power since 1984.

France has called on the junta to "show responsibility" by respecting the Guinean people's "legitimate aspiration" to democratically choose their leaders. Paris added that Camara should help calm to return by not standing for election.

Guinea is one of the world's top exporters of bauxite, which is used for aluminium production.

Editor: Michael Lawton